Steven Pressfield’s New Book for Creators

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*tThe book I recommend most often to my coaching clients is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – based on his own struggles en route to becoming a best-selling novelist, it’s indispensable reading for anyone who wants to create or achieve something amazing with their life.

Steve just told me he has a new book out – Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t – and right now you can pick up the ebook edition for free.

EDIT: The launch offer has ended, so the book is no longer free, but having read it and highlighted LOTS of Steve’s advice, I would say this is essential reading if you are serious about making your writing count.

Here’s how he describes it:

The title comes from the first and most important lesson I ever learned as a writer, on the very first day of my very first job, as a junior copywriter for Benton & Bowles Advertising in New York. What the phrase means is that because readers are inevitably busy, impatient, easily-distracted, i.e. they don’t want to read your sh*t, it’s incumbent on you and me as writers to make our stuff so interesting, so sexy, so unusual, so compelling that a reader would have to be crazy NOT to read it.

As usual with Steve’s non-fiction writing, it’s based on his experience as a writer, but the lessons apply to just about any creative endeavour: whether you’re trying to make it as an artist, creative, performer or entrepreneur, you learn pretty fast how tough it is to get people to pay attention to your work.

The book spans his several careers, from Madison Avenue copywriter to Hollywood screenwriter and best-selling author, and it’s full of entertaining stories and his usual pithy advice – in this case, on how to deal with the world’s indifference and get your readers (or audience, or customers) to sit up and take notice.

Click here to pick up your copy.

My new book: Motivation for Creative People

Cover of Motivation for Creative PeopleAfter 18 months, four drafts and countless cups of coffee, my new book Motivation for Creative People is finally complete.

You can pick up the ebook edition from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and Smashwords.

There’s also a paperback edition, beautifully designed and illustrated by the wonderful Irene Hoffman.

So what’s the book about?

How to stay creative while gaining money, fame, and reputation

Psychological research confirms what we know in our hearts: we are at our most creative when we are driven by intrinsic motivation – working for the sheer joy of it, regardless of rewards. Focusing on extrinsic motivation – such as money, fame, or other rewards – can kill your creativity.

Which is all well and good, but if you’re a creative professional you can’t ignore the rewards:

You need money to enjoy your life and to fund your projects. You may not need to be famous, but you do need a good reputation within your professional network. And if you’re in a fame-driven industry you need a powerful public profile, whether or not you enjoy the limelight.

There’s a precious balance at play – get it wrong, and you could seriously damage your creativity and even your career.

I’ve written Motivation for Creative People to help you strike the right balance, so that you stay creative even as you pursue your professional ambitions.

Did I succeed?

The answer from my beta readers has been overwhelmingly “Yes!”.

I also showed the book to Steven Pressfield, author of the creativity classic The War of Art and a string of successful novels. As a bestselling author and Hollywood veteran, Steve knows a thing or two about balancing creativity and success. Here’s what he had to say after reading the book:

Mark McGuinness is a rare cat – part poet, part coach for creative professionals, part old-time, overeducated Brit who thinks deeply about stuff you and I have never heard of.

His extraordinary new book Motivation for Creative People is a deep, unsentimental dive into the quotidian realities of the artist’s life – how to stay sane, pay the rent, refrain from murdering your spouse, all while pursuing your calling with purity of heart and nobility of intention.

This is a How To manual at the highest level from a man who has lived the life and has watched and worked intimately with hundreds of others who’ve done the same. Indispensable reading for anyone in a creative field who is seeking to achieve not just a flash of brilliance but a lifelong career.

Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of The War of Art

click here to learn more about Motivation for Creative People.

Kabuki: Lessons from 400 Years of Creative Tradition

Kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa XI in action, from Ebizo’s YouTube channel

Last Christmas I visited the Kabuki-za theater in Tokyo to experience kabuki—one of Japan’s traditional forms of drama, dating back to 1603. As the curtain slid aside, it revealed a world of breathtaking beauty: a stage like a painted scroll, where actors in bright costumes and makeup acted, sang, danced, and fought. In one play, a riotous samurai battle climaxed with spectacular acrobatics. In the next, a lover driven mad by separation danced with a hallucinated vision of his former sweetheart. It was as though a book of prints by Hokusai or Hiroshige had come to life in front of me.

The actor playing the crazed lover is called Ichikawa Ebizo XI. This is his actor’s title, not his birth name. Why “the eleventh”? Because he is the eleventh member of the Ichikawa family to bear this title, most of whom have been blood relatives, with others inheriting the name via adoption. Ebizo’s father was Ichikawa Ebizo X, and his grandfather Ichikawa Ebizo IX. The lineage stretches back to Ichikawa Ebizo I, who trod the boards in Tokyo, then called Edo, in the 17th century.

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The Art of Emotional Pricing

Dollar bills folded into heart shapes

How much should I charge?

I hear this question a lot from coaching clients wrestling with the perennial question of how much a unique piece of art, or a stylish design, or an engrossing story, or a transformational creative service is worth in hard cash.

There are many answers to this question, and several well-known methods for working out your prices, such as benchmarking against your competitors; or deciding how much you want to earn in a year and dividing that by the number of sales you expect to make; or calculating and demonstrating the value of the work to your buyer. Sometimes I’ll use one or more of these methods to help my client work out their fees.

But with a particular type of client I give a different answer:

I think you already know.

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Is Inspiration a Thing of the Past?

Nine Muses on a classical frieze

The Nine Muses

Once upon a time it was taken for granted that the source of creativity was not the artist but the spirits, gods, or Muses, via inspiration. The word “inspiration” comes from the same Latin root as “respiration,” suggesting that the artist “breathed in” influences from outside. The opening of Homer’s Odyssey is a typical invocation to the Muse, imploring the goddess to touch the poet with divine inspiration:

Tell me, O Muse, th’ adventures of the man
That having sack’d the sacred town of Troy,
Wander’d so long at sea; what course he ran
By winds and tempests driven from his way:
That saw the cities, and the fashions knew
Of many men, but suffer’d grievous pain
To save his own life, and bring home his crew;
Though for his crew, all he could do was vain,
They lost themselves by their own insolence,
Feeding, like fools, on the Sun’s sacred kine;
Which did the splendid deity incense
To their dire fate. Begin, O Muse divine.

Homer, The Odyssey, Book I, lines 1–12, translated by Thomas Hobbes

The tradition of invoking the Muse lasted a long time. Here is Milton going through the same ritual two-and-a-half thousand years later:

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