It’s been way too long since I posted last, I know. We adopted a dog last week and it’s craft fair season again, so what little work I’ve been able to accomplish has gone exclusively towards getting ready for last weekend’s Indie Mart, and this coming weekend’s Unique Los Angeles. Still, I’m able to read the interwebs a little during meals, and yesterday at lunch I read Hugh MacLeod’s “How to Be Creative” manifesto, also called “Ignore Everybody” in its soon-to-be-published hardcover form.
MacLeod’s manifesto is a really refreshing read, because it puts the American dream back into perspective. It never promises anything — least of all that your creative idea will be successful — but it reassured me that my dreams are worth pursuing, and that success is still a reasonably attainable goal as long as I’m willing to put the hours in.
“How to Be Creative” is organized into 37 little chapters (40 in the hardcover edition), each titled with an original, pithy truism, such as ” Selling out is harder than it looks” and “Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.” While I agree with some of MacLeod’s proscriptions more than others, the sentiment behind each idea is sound. For example, on “keeping your day job” (#7), I may not agree that I should just “find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but me, and…make it productive” because I want more than an hour a day to be creative. As long as my life is financially stable, I don’t think it’s necessary to put a lot of time into a day job I don’t find especially meaningful. But I do agree with “balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s creative sovereignty” (i.e. the “Sex and Cash Theory”). In other words, it’s important not to compromise your creative work in order to make it more marketable, because that’s not fulfilling either.
I would recommend reading this manifesto to anyone who struggles with creative work, whether you’re in a band, thinking about starting a business, or just wondering where to go with your art. You can read the first twelve chapters on MacLeod’s web site, or you can download the first 26 chapters in pdf format at ChangeThis. I think now that he has a publisher, however, you won’t be able to read the whole thing unless you buy the book when it comes out in June.