How to Be Creative :: Section 1&2

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

You will read a section of the manifest each day and blog about your findings. Blog about > What this means to me is… use main ideas, keywords, etc. (Forming Interpretations)


So you want to be more creative in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.

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 cartoon-onback-of-bizcard format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasnʼt I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest, i.e., cutie-pie greeting cards or whatever?

You donʼt know if your idea is any good the moment itʼs created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. Thereʼs a reason why feelings scare us.

And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. Itʼs not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. Itʼs just they donʼt know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain.

Plus, a big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they donʼt want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes. They like things the way they are, thatʼs how they love you—the way you are, not the way you may become.

Ergo, they have no incentive to see you change. And they will be resistant to anything that catalyzes it. Thatʼs human nature. And you would do the same, if the shoe were on the other foot.

With business colleagues, itʼs even worse. Theyʼre used to dealing with you in a certain way. Theyʼre used to having a certain level of control over the relationship. And they want whatever makes them more prosperous. Sure, they might prefer it if you prosper as well, but thatʼs not their top priority.

Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships, that is why good ideas are always initially resisted.

If your idea is so good that it changes your dynamic enough to where you need them less or, God forbid, THE MARKET needs them less, then theyʼre going to resist your idea every chance they can.

Again, thatʼs human nature.

Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships, that is why good ideas are always initially resisted.

Good ideas come with a heavy burden. Which is why so few people have them. So few people can handle it.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.

The two are not the same thing.

We all spend a lot of time being impressed by folks weʼve never met. Somebody featured in the media whoʼs got a big company, a big product, a big movie, a big bestseller. Whatever.

And we spend even more time trying unsuccessfully to keep up with them. Trying to start up our own companies, our own products, our own film projects, books and whatnot.

Iʼm as guilty as anyone. I tried lots of different things over the years, trying desperately to pry my career out of the jaws of mediocrity. Some to do with business, some to do with art, etc.

One evening, after one false start too many, I just gave up. Sitting at a bar, feeling a bit burned out by work and life in general, I just started drawing on the back of business cards for no reason. I didnʼt really need a reason. I just did it because it was there, because it amused me in a kind of random, arbitrary way.

Of course it was stupid. Of course it wasnʼt commercial. Of course it wasnʼt going to go anywhere. Of course it was a complete and utter waste of time. But in retrospect, it was this built-in futility that gave it its edge. Because it was the exact opposite of all the “Big Plans” my peers and I were used to making. It was so liberating not to have to be thinking about all that, for a change.

It was so liberating to be doing something that didnʼt have to impress anybody, for a change.

It was so liberating to have something that belonged just to me and no one else, for a change.

It was so liberating to feel complete sovereignty, for a change. To feel complete freedom, for a change.

And of course, it was then, and only then, that the outside world started paying attention.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. How your own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will change the world far more than the the workʼs objective merits ever will.

Your idea doesnʼt 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.

Thatʼs what doodling on business cards taught me.