How to Be Creative :: Sections 9/10

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 post your own, well crafted reply about using this sentence to start your reply: This is relevant to my life because …

Sentence Starter Today: This is relevant to my life because …

9. 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 donʼt make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

This metaphorical Mount Everest doesnʼt have to manifest itself as “Art.” For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others, the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy over-sized model airplane, the list has no end.

Whatever. Letʼs talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

Letʼs say you never climb it. Do you have a problem with that? Can you just say to yourself, “Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway,” and take up stamp-collecting instead?

Well, you could try. But I wouldnʼt believe you. I think itʼs not okay for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise, you wouldnʼt have read this far.

So it looks like youʼre going to have to climb the frickinʼ mountain. Deal with it.

My advice? You donʼt need my advice. You really donʼt. The biggest piece of advice I could

give anyone would be this:

“Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists.

That is half the battle.”

And youʼve already done that. You really have. Otherwise, again, you wouldnʼt have read this far. Rock on.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.

Abraham Lincoln wrote The Gettysburg Address on a piece of ordinary stationery that he had borrowed from the friend in whose house he was staying.

James Joyce wrote with a simple pencil and notebook. Somebody else did the typing, but only much later.

Van Gogh rarely painted with more than six colors on his palette.

I draw on the back of wee biz cards. Whatever.

Thereʼs no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. Heʼs a man on a mission. Heʼs got a deadline. Heʼs got some rich client breathing down his neck. The last thing he wants is to spend 3 weeks learning how to use a router drill if he doesnʼt need to.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macintosh computers.

Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops.

Which is why there are so many crappy photographers with state-of-the-art digital cameras.

Which is why there are so many unremarkable painters with expensive studios in trendy neighborhoods.

Hiding behind pillars, all of them.

Pillars do not help; they hinder. The more mighty the pillar, the more you end up relying on it psychologically, the more it gets in your way.

And this applies to business, as well.

Which is why there are so many failing businesses with fancy offices.

Which is why thereʼs so many failing businessmen spending a fortune on fancy suits and expensive yacht club memberships.

Again, hiding behind pillars.

Successful people, artists and non-artists alike, are very good at spotting pillars. Theyʼre very good at doing without them. Even more importantly, once theyʼve spotted a pillar, theyʼre very good at quickly getting rid of it.

Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet. If you have it, I envy you. If you donʼt, I pity you.

Sure, nobodyʼs perfect. We all have our pillars. We seem to need them. You are never going to live a pillar-free existence. Neither am I.

All we can do is keep asking the question, “Is this a pillar?” about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive, etc., and go from there. The more we ask, the better we get at spotting pillars, the more quickly the pillars vanish.

Ask. Keep asking. And then ask again. Stop asking and youʼre dead.

5 Comments

  1. What I gain from this is that you not only have your own ultimate goal, but also we hide behind a lot of equipment and tools. This was mainly gathered from when he mentioned how pillars block us badly. This mainly means that our skills our dumbed down rather than brought up. It also tells how we try to hide behind these pillars to make things easier when it really isn’t. One final thing is that unless we climb our ultimate goal we will regret it at our death.

    Like

  2. IF your talented than you really dont need the props and tools to make you great because you are already great, those are things that help because once an obstacle is in the way, those tools wont be much help… your going to need your skills and talent to overcome that obstacle and climb your mount everest

    Like

  3. What this means to me is that, you should at least do what you really put your mind too. Before it’s too late, and you end up dying and leaving your body empty. Everyone has their own mountain to climb when it comes to creativity. There will be obstacles but, you have to do the best that you can do. Also be the best that you can be as well.

    Like

  4. To me, these sections means that there will be obstacles that you will face and what you use doesn’t make your work great, you make the work great. There will be obstacles that you will face because nothing will be easy and you will need to face challenges to get over something. What you use doesn’t make that work great because those are only what helps, you as a designer, makes it great.

    Like

Comments are closed.