How to Be Creative :: Sections 7/8

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 start your comment off with this sentence:
The idea I’m getting is…

7. Keep your day job.

Iʼm not just saying that for the usual reason i.e., because I think your idea will fail. Iʼm saying it because to suddenly quit oneʼs job in a big olʼ creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call “The Sex & Cash Theory.”

THE SEX & CASH THEORY: The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs. One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.

A good example is Phil, a NY photographer friend of mine. He does really wild stuff for the indie magazines—it pays nothing, but it allows him to build his portfolio. Then heʼll go off and shoot some catalogs for a while. Nothing too exciting, but it pays the bills.

Another example is somebody like Martin Amis. He writes “serious” novels, but he has to supplement his income by writing the occasional newspaper article for the London papers (novel royalties are bloody pathetic—even bestsellers like Amis arenʼt immune).

Or actors. One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction (“Sex”), the next heʼll be in some dumb spy thriller (“Cash”).

Or painters. You spend one month painting blue pictures because thatʼs the color the celebrity collectors are buying this season (“Cash”), you spend the next month painting red pictures because secretly you despise the color blue and love the color red (“Sex”).

Or geeks. You spend you weekdays writing code for a faceless corporation (“Cash”), then you spend your evening and weekends writing anarchic, weird computer games with which to amuse your techie friends (“Sex”).

The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs. One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills.

Itʼs balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining oneʼs creative sovereignty.

My M.O. is gapingvoid (“Sex”), coupled with my day job (“Cash”).

Iʼm thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines…who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.

Well, over time the “harshly” bit might go away, but not the “divided.” This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.

As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I donʼt know why this happens. Itʼs the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way—who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author…well, they never make it.

Anyway, itʼs called “The Sex & Cash Theory.” Keep it under your pillow.

 

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius.

Since the modern, scientifically-conceived corporation was invented in the early half of the Twentieth Century, creativity has been sacrificed in favor of forwarding the interests of the “Team Player.”

Fair enough. There was more money in doing it that way; thatʼs why they did it.

Thereʼs only one problem. Team Players are not very good at creating value on their own. They are not autonomous; they need a team in order to exist.

So now corporations are awash with non-autonomous thinkers.

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

“I donʼt know. What do you think?”

And so on.

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And thatʼs exactly whatʼs been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

We have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

What happens to an ecology, when the parasite level reaches critical mass?

The ecology dies.

If youʼre creative, if you can think independently, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did. And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isnʼt the case.

So dust off your horn and start tooting it. Exactly.

However if youʼre not particularly creative, then youʼre in real trouble. And thereʼs no buzzword or “new paradigm” that can help you. They may not have mentioned this in business school, but…people like watching dinosaurs die.

4 Comments

  1. What this means to me is that, even if you fail at something that you really want to do. Make sure that you always have a back plan. Also make sure one of them are paying the bills and the other job could be that thing that you’ve always wanted to do. No one can ever bully you into becoming a genius. Now a days companies doesn’t think you work is good enough and that’s ok. Just don’t give up keep trying, someone will recognize your work one day.

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  2. The idea I’m getting is to be able to cover both sides while going into the work field and college life.This sex and cash theory helps you in a way you can both earn money while also being creative. as Kamari said.

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  3. To me, these sections means to be creative with your work and to be productive in making money. You should be creative with your work because you will be able to make something great and original.

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  4. How to be creative is also having the mind set of being creative and also being productive and in making money. This sex and cash theory helps you in a way you can both earn money while also being creative.

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