How to Be Creative :: Sections 21/22

MacLeod highlights the value of authenticity and hard work, and reveals the challenges and rewards of being creative.

Read the sections from Mr. MacLeod’s manifesto on how to be creative. Then meditate on what you read and post your own, well crafted reply:


Today’s sentence starter: It makes a difference that this text was written because …

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

Diluting your product to make it more “commercial” will just make people like it less.

Many years ago, barely out of college, I started schlepping around the ad agencies, looking for my first job.

One fine day a Creative Director kindly agreed for me to come show him my portfolio. Hooray!

So I came to his office and showed him my work. My work was bloody awful. All of it.

Imagine the worst, cheesiest “I used to wash with Sudso but now I wash with Lemon-Fresh Rinso Extreme” vapid housewife crap. Only far worse than that.

The CD was a nice guy. You could tell he didnʼt think much of my work, though he was far too polite to blurt it out. Finally he quietly confessed that it wasnʼt doing much for him.

“Well, the target market are middle class housewives,” I rambled. “Theyʼre quite conservative, so I thought Iʼd better tone it down…”

“You can tone it down once youʼve gotten the job and once the client comes after your ass with a red hot poker and tells you to tone it down,” he laughed. “Till then, show me the toned-up version.”

This story doesnʼt just happen in advertising. It happens everywhere.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give [two-cents] about your book, painting, screenplay, etc., especially if you havenʼt

sold it yet. And the ones that arenʼt, you donʼt want in your life anyway.

Making a big deal over your creative shtick is the kiss of death. Thatʼs all I have to say on the subject.