We are all artists
Yesterday I wrote about Seth Godin who made me understand what is art. Today I am going to reveal the identity of a man who told me that I am an artist too. I have never met him. I have only seen his art. And I read his book and that was all I needed. He helped me believe in myself, my own creativity and my own potential.
His name is Hugh Macleod. He is a cartoonist, marketing consultant, and a highly-regarded author, writing on the themes of innovation, creativity and motivation. His book “Ignore Everybody” began life on his popular marketing blog, gapingvoid.com, as an e-book. It was downloaded over 5 million times since being posted and enjoyed by readers all over the world. Re-imagined in print form, the book “Ignore Everybody” made the Wall Street Journal’s best sellers list.
An earlier version of the “Ignore Everybody” is available free as How to be Creative and it has been downloaded 4.5 million times and this was the book that introduced me to Hugh’s philosophy. The book has 26 chapters i.e. 26 pieces of advice. I selected three which made the most impact on me.
1. We are all born creative
Hugh’s simple argument is that we were all given a box of crayons in kindergarten. We all used them freely and had a lot of fun with them. Then what happened? We hit puberty. And they took away the crayons and gave us books on algebra:
Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, “I’d like my crayons back, please.
So you’ve got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, whatever. You don’t know where the itch came from; it’s almost like it just arrived on your doorstop, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person… until now.
You don’t know if you’re any good or not, but you’d think you could be. And the idea terrifies you… You don’t know any publishers or agents or all these fancy-shmancy kind of folk…Heh. That is not your wee voice asking for crayons back. That’s your adult voice, your boring and tedious voice trying to find a way to get the wee voice to shut the hell up.
Your wee voice doesn’t want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something. There is a big difference.
Go ahead and make something. Make something really special. Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.
So you have to listen to your wee voice or it will die… taking a big chunk of you along with it.
They are only crayons. You didn’t fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now?Hugh MacLeod in How to be Creative
2. Ignore Everybody
When we get an idea that holds us and doesn’t just go away, our first reaction is to run it past others. To get advise. To think about it logically. Do a feasibility study. But Hugh advice is to ignore everybody:
The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.
You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feeling is not as easy as the optimist say it is. There’s a reason why feelings scare us.
Plus the big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don’t want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you will also change. They like things the way they are, that’s how they love you – the way you are, not the way you may become.Hugh Macleod in How to be Creative
It is so liberating to do your own thing. It is so liberating to do something where you don’t have to impress anybody. It is so liberating to feel complete sovereignty over your work. Hugh writes, “The sovereignty you have our work will inspire far more people than the actual content of it.”
3. Put the hours in
When Hugh first started with the cartoons on back-of-business-card-format, people thought he was nuts. He got asked a lot, “Your business card format is very simple. Aren’t you worried about somebody ripping it off?” His answer to them was “Only if they can draw more of them than me and better than me.” What gave his work its edge was a simple fact that he’d spent years drawing them. He had drawn thousands. That was tens of thousands of man-hours.
“Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and the failed people is time, effort and stamina.
If somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it’s probably he works harder at it than you do. Sure, maybe he’s more inherently talented, more adept at networking, etc. but I don’t consider that an excuse. Over time, that advantage counts for less and less. Which is why the world is full of highly talented, network-savvy, failed mediocrities.
Put the hours in; do it for long enough and magical life-transforming things happen eventually.
Stamina is utterly important. And stamina is only possible if managed well. People think all they need to do is endure one crazy, job-free creative burst and their dreams will come true. They are wrong. They are stupidly wrong.Hugh MacLeod in How to be Creative
When we put the hours in, do it for long enough, magical and life-transforming things happen eventually. That is the promise Hugh makes.
I urge you to read his books How to be Creative and Ignore Everybody. They will answer most of your concerns and tackle head-on the fears which are stopping you from starting whatever it is you want to.
Tomorrow, I will introduce to you the man who inspired me the most. I owe, starting of this website and many other creative ventures I have started, to him.