In Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, Hugh MacLeod expands on his sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice. Here are 10 + 1 keys to creativity:
1. Ignore everybody.
The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the biz card format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn’t I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest. i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?
2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.
The two are not the same thing. Your idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing. The more amazing, the more people will click with your idea. The more people click with your idea, the more it will change the world.
3. Put the hours in.
Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina.
4. You are responsible for your own experience.
Nobody can tell you if what you’re doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.
5. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, “I’d like my crayons back, please. “
6. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snowline, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
7. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it’s going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t end up pulling it off, you’ll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It’s NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity– that hurts FAR more than any failure.
8. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.
The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse worldly rewards with spiritual rewards, and vice versa. Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that’s still worth a TON.
9. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.
The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.
10. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc., especially if you haven’t sold it yet. And the ones that aren’t, you don’t want in your life anyway.
+1 Write from the heart.