How to Be Creative :: Sections 11/12

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; using this sentence to start your reply: The most important message here is …

Sentence Starter Today: The most important message here is …

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. Thereʼs no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.

Iʼve seen it so many times. Call him Ted. A young kid in the big city, just off the bus, wanting to be a famous something: artist, writer, musician, film director, whatever. Heʼs full of fire, full of passion, full of ideas. And you meet Ted again five or ten years later, and heʼs still tending bar at the same restaurant. Heʼs not a kid anymore. But heʼs still no closer to his dream.

His voice is still as defiant as ever, certainly, but thereʼs an emptiness to his words that wasnʼt there before.

Yeah, well, Ted probably chose a very well-trodden path. Write novel, be discovered, publish bestseller, sell movie rights, retire rich in 5 years. Or whatever.

No worries that there are probably three million other novelists/actors/musicians/painters etc with the same plan. But of course, Tedʼs special. Of course his fortune will defy the odds eventually. Of course. Thatʼs what he keeps telling you, as he refills your glass.

Is your plan of a similar ilk? If it is, then Iʼd be concerned.

When I started the business card cartoons I was lucky; at the time I had a pretty well-paid corporate job in New York that I liked. The idea of quitting it in order to join the ranks of Bohemia didnʼt even occur to me. What, leave Manhattan for Brooklyn? Ha. Not bloody likely. I was just doing it to amuse myself in the evenings, to give me something to do at the bar while I waited for my date to show up or whatever.

There was no commercial incentive or larger agenda governing my actions. If I wanted to draw on the back of a business card instead of a “proper” medium, I could. If I wanted to use a four-letter word, I could. If I wanted to ditch the standard figurative format and draw psychotic abstractions instead, I could. There was no flashy media or publishing executive to keep happy. And even better, there was no artist-lifestyle archetype to conform to.

It gave me a lot of freedom. That freedom paid off in spades, later.

Question how much freedom your path affords you. Be utterly ruthless about it.

Itʼs your freedom that will get you to where you want to go. Blind faith in an over subscribed, vainglorious myth will only hinder you.

Is your plan unique? Is there nobody else doing it? Then Iʼd be excited. A little scared, maybe, but excited.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think itʼs 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, itʼs worth it. Even if you donʼt end up pulling it off, youʼll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. Itʼs NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity—that hurts FAR more than any failure.

Frankly, I think youʼre better off doing something on the assumption that you will NOT be rewarded for it, that it will NOT receive the recognition it deserves, that it will NOT be worth the time and effort invested in it.

The obvious advantage to this angle is, of course, if anything good comes of it, then itʼs an added bonus.

The second, more subtle and profound advantage is: that by scuppering all hope of worldly and social betterment from the creative act, you are finally left with only one question to answer:

Do you make this damn thing exist or not?

And once you can answer that truthfully to yourself, the rest is easy.

6 Comments

  1. what this means to me is that when your creating a product, one of the things you want to do is be original and create your own products. stay away from what everyone else is doing and do not follow the crowd because it may make the situation worse.

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  2. What I gain from this to have your own unique plan for life no matter how scary it is and fall and get right back up. He tells these things in his last sentence and first paragraph saying make your plan unique and fail trying. What he is basically trying to say is that as long you take the opportunity and learn from it then it is worthwhile. Also he is trying to say unless you have your own version of a plan you can’t truly accomplish your dreams. Unique plans make it so you don’t have to worry about other people having the same way to take your dream.

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  3. To me, this means that a part of being creative is staying away from crowds and create your own work that is totally new to the market. What you wants to do is create your own product because many others copy each others work and seem to fail.

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  4. What this means to me is that, you have to create a product that is very far from different than everyone else product. So basically, your product would have to be breathe taking. There will be some trials and tribulations but, you’ll just have to push your way through it. As it says in section 12, “If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.” Trust and believe all of this work that you have put in will be worth it.

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  5. To me, these sections means you can make your own product and it doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else and that if you expect something isn’t going to go good and it happens, you would probably be less likely to get hurt by it. if you make your own product and it doesn’t look like everything else, then it’ll be unique to you.

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  6. You have to make your own product different from the rest and take away from the crowds. You’ll have to go through the pain to overcome the loses you will go through in order to get what you want.

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