The Creative Itch

I bought Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod based on an online recommendation and am glad that I did, since I enjoyed it a lot.

In addition to some really funny cartoons that had me and my family rolling, he has wise and down-to-earth guidance on figuring out how to be creative and successful—on your own terms—in today's crazy world.

As Hugh explains, we were all born creative and then lose the knack. When we get an itch to create something, that's that primal urge making itself heard. The more original your idea and the more different from what's "accepted," the more resistance you should expect.

I could really relate to how Hugh went about things. He kept his day job (copywriting) and worked on his craft on the side. He explains how this allowed him to walk away from any offers that would have compromised his art or forced him to cross the line he had set for himself.

He also explains why he's not worried about copycatters: he's already put in the hours to master his craft (cartoons on the back of business cards), so anyone else would just be starting and therefore always behind. The authors of Rework (the other book I read this past weekend and blogged about earlier) don't worry about imitators since they believe that what makes a product stand out is the part of you that you pour into it. Anyone who imitates the end-result will be missing out on this vital aspect and the lessons you've learned on the way there.

Some other wise tidbits Hugh shares are— 
  • relish your obscurity (when you can more easily do things your way), 
  • not to make your hobby/passion into a job (at which point you may no longer enjoy it), 
  • speak in your own voice (not jargons and "professional" speak), 
  • and to remain frugal (so you never have to sell-out your art). 
Above all, he explains how ideas don't need to be big, but they should be your own to be worth doing. So expect it to be lonely, to take hours and be hard work, but do it so that you have created something of your own.

What was your last creative itch? How do you plan on reacting to the next one?

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