Ah, there you are! Do come in.
Make yourself at home – Meph will take your coat. Please have a seat.
Yes, I do apologise, it is rather warm. We’re having a devil of a job with the thermostat. Someone’s supposed to be coming to fix it, but you know how it is with these people, it’s always ‘mañana’…
Now, how about a drink?
We’re very proud of our selection here, I’m sure you’ll find something to your taste – just peruse the list and let me know what you’d like… Meph will decant it for you.
I beg your pardon? Oh yes of course, you can have just a taster if you want to try it first…
Ohh, this one is delicious. You have to try it. Just a little sip, I insist!
You see, the wonderful thing about creative work is that it’s so damn enjoyable.
Noel Coward nailed it when he said “Work is more fun than fun” – once you’re in the creative zone, absorbed in your writing, or painting, or making music, or acting or whatever is your métier, you’re having such a wonderful time you wouldn’t rather be doing anything else in the world.
You can spend hours and hours working away happily – without food, without conversation, sometimes without even coffee or Twitter. Creativity feels so good it’s positively addictive.
But it gets better…
You see, the scientists have been poking around in the little grey cells, and they’ve discovered a rather wonderful thing:
Intrinsic motivation is very highly correlated with creativity.
It doesn’t sound so much fun when you put it like that, does it? But here’s the sexy translation of the academic jargon: if you’re doing good work you’ll feel great while you’re doing it.
And I hardly need to remind you of the pleasures of the Bohemian lifestyle… Just think of the great hell raisers of the creative world – Baudelaire, Behan, Belushi, Bonham, Bowie, Brando, Bukowski, Burton – they all knew how to have a fiendishly good time. Shining examples of the fact creativity thrives on sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
What’s to stop you joining them?
So what does this mean for you?
Essentially, I am giving you a licence to indulge in pleasure. Your work should be fun! It MUST be fun!
So don’t waste your time on anything boring or difficult. If you don’t find yourself in the creative zone within five minutes, it’s a sure sign that you should stop and do something else.
Go for a walk. Relax. Stretch. Check out Twitter or Facebook. Have a coffee, or better yet, a glass of wine. Call your friends, go out for a drink. The weekend starts here…
Never forget: your talent is your ticket to pleasure.
No creator is an island. You can’t create great art without first consuming it – lots of it.
You’ve seen the gauche productions of amateurs who aren’t familiar with either the classic or cutting-edge works in your field. Heaven forbid you should make that mistake!
And if you know your cultural history, you can trace the lines of influence from generation to generation, as the rising stars familiarised themselves with the works of past masters before going on to transcend them.
In other words, drawing inspiration from the works of others is just as creative as making things yourself. Which means…
If you want to be a rock star, you need a killer record collection.
If you want to be a great novelist, you need a comprehensive home library, or a Kindle crammed with great literature. Preferably both.
If you want to be a leading designer, you need the latest and best Mac, a library of glossy books, and a home furnished with elegant design objects.
If you want to be an iconic fashion designer, it’s unthinkable for you to be seen in public in anything other than haute couture.
And so on… whatever your career path, you need a collection of the best work and the finest equipment money can buy, before you can even think of producing anything worthwhile yourself.
Remember, this isn’t about being materialistic – these things are essential to your creative development. They’re not luxuries, but necessities.
Have a look through your collection of books/music/clothes/15th century Florentine sculpture… I’m sure it’s very impressive, as befits a connoisseur like you.
But is it complete? Surely there a few gaps that need filling? Maybe it’s time to go shopping…
(Naturally, I would never encourage you do illegally download valuable creative work from the internet.)
Look around you and you’ll see plenty of things that would be handsome additions to your collection – why not go on a splurge? Treat yourself to all those things you’ve been hankering after – and a few you never knew you wanted.
And remember, it takes time to absorb great art, so make sure you block off plenty of time during the working week for reading/listening/watching the great works of other creators.
Go on, indulge yourself…
As Mark told you right back at the beginning of Lateral Action, we are living in the age of the creative economy – creativity is now a valuable economic property, which means there are big rewards on offer for the work of talented creative people… like you.
The magic word here is monetization – it means to take something that isn’t making money (and maybe was never intended to make money) and find a way to make money out of it. Isn’t that marvellous?
It could be a poem, a sketch, a quilt, a blog, or a nice little hobby you amuse yourself with at the weekend.
If it moves – monetize it! If it doesn’t move – monetize it! If you can touch it – monetize it! If it’s – well, I won’t labour the point. I can see you’re a fast learner.
Whenever you start a new creative project, your first thought should be: How will I monetize this?
If you can’t think of a way to turn it into hard cash, don’t bother with it! Why waste your time on something with no ROI?
And don’t forget your back catalogue. Go through everything you’ve ever made and start brainstorming ways to monetize it. Don’t worry about the quality, you’d be amazed at what people will buy. You’re sitting on a goldmine! Time to start digging…
Remember the golden rule: no cash = creative trash.
We all know our best ideas come to us in creative downtime – the moments when we’re not doing anything much – in the shower, walking the dog, playing frisbee, lying on the beach, sitting in a cafe watching the world go by.
All that time, your unconscious mind is taking the strain – solving problems, dreaming up ideas, preparing insights – in a magical process called creative incubation.
As Mark says, it’s fiendishly difficult to tell the difference between incubation and procrastination – so if I were you I’d play it safe, imitate the action of the chicken, and do as much incubating as possible.
If you want to be really creative, take it easy. Hard work is for mediocrities, to be avoided at all costs.
If you feel the slightest hint of Resistance, don’t push against it – you might strain yourself.
Take long lunches. Keep your evenings and weekends free.
Each day, give yourself an extra hour in bed. Each week, give yourself an extra day off. Come to think of it, when did you last have a holiday? Isn’t it about time you took a sabbatical…?
Look around you at this philistine world, full of grubby people chasing money, with no appreciation of art, and no sympathy for the suffering of artistic souls like you.
Doesn’t it make you sick?
Don’t you want to smash it to smithereens? To tear down the walls and bring the whole edifice crashing down on their heads?
And you’ve probably noticed that your ‘fellow’ creators aren’t much better – it’s disgusting the way they are constantly jostling for position, pushing themselves forward and stabbing each other (and you) in the back. Bleurghhh.
Isn’t it about time someone did something about it?
Pay close attention to all the things that niggle at you and make you annoyed. (You won’t have to look far, trust me.)
Every time you get that feeling, don’t bottle it up – let it out! Tell people exactly what you think of them, and their shallow ideas and their shoddy behaviour.
Even if you can’t do it in person, there are plenty of places you can do it online – on your blog, on someone else’s blog, on Facebook, or in a forum.
(Remember: if you’re going to be really vicious, it’s traditional to remain anonymous.)
Sure, you could channel your righteous indignation into your work – I’m sure you can reel off plenty of great works of art that were fueled by a sense of anger at injustice – but maybe leave that till later. Better to work up to it by venting on Twitter or ranting in the bar.
Notice how good it feels?
Do you ever look at one of the rising stars in your field and think:
What’s so special about them? My work’s at least as good as theirs! Why are they getting all the attention? Why not me?
If so, then I have just the thing for you… Go on Meph, top it up – splendid!
I know how awful it must be for you to be struggling along, undiscovered and unappreciated – and then see some little upstart without a fraction of your talent get waved to the front of the queue, where everyone starts fawning over them and showering them with praise and money and awards and god knows what else.
So take a long draught of Envy and you’ll start to feel better… You’ll see – very clearly – exactly how mediocre the so-called ‘stars’ really are, and how much better you are in every respect.
When it kicks in, Envy has a wonderfully soothing effect – it chases away all those nasty little doubts about your own abilities. It stops you getting caught up in the laughable delusion that people in your field are rewarded on merit.
I’m sure you can see the absurdity of such idea: I mean, if that really were the case, you’d be in an uncomfortable position, wouldn’t you? You might have to start doing a few things differently, or getting better at – no, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Let’s move on…
Next time you see someone else in your field being praised and rewarded for their so-called ‘achievements’, start running these questions through your mind:
Just who are they?
What exactly have they done that’s so great?
Whose palm did they grease?
Who did they sleep with?
How come no-one sees how poor their work is?
How can they be so blind to my talents?
Carry on like this, and you’ll soon feel better. Best of all, it will absolve you of superfluous hard thinking and hard work.
You’ll be pleased to know I’ve “saved the best wine till last” (as somebody once said). This one is positively intoxicating.
I’m sure you know how galling it is to have your time taken up by little people, with their trivial thoughts and petty demands. And their persistent, inexplicable failure to make allowances for your unique and special talent.
If they had any taste or discernment they would realise that you are an ARTIST! Not only that, you are a GENIUS! You are not as others are. You are cut from a different cloth. The usual rules don’t apply to you.
You deserve respect! You deserve recognition! You deserve success! You deserve the best! And you deserve it all now!
Let’s face it, there’s not much I – or anyone else – can teach you. Just bear these principles in mind and you won’t go far wrong:
Never restrain your impulses – your every whim should be indulged.
Never deprive yourself of anything – your appetite needs to be satisfied.
Never miss a chance to monetize – your creativity should be rewarded.
Never work hard – talent like yours should be effortless.
Never listen to feedback or criticism, even from so-called ‘experts’ – what do they know about it?
And never, ever, get your hands dirty with marketing or promotion – the audience should come to you.
[EDIT: URGENT APPEAL FROM MARK: Help! My blog has been taken over by dark forces. 😮
I don’t know who Old Nick is but he’s managed to publish this article without my permission – it looks like he’s trying to undo all my hard work on Lateral Action by spreading really bad advice for creative people.
He must have cast a spell on this post because I can’t edit or delete it – so I’m relying on you to help undo the damage: please leave a comment, either explaining how Old Nick has got it wrong, or sharing a tip on how to avoid one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Creativity.
I’m relying on you… please be quick – before he spots this message and deletes it!]
About the Author: Old Nick has taken over Mark McGuinness’ blog because he thinks it’s time you faced up to the harsh facts about creativity. He has nothing to do with Mark’s creative coaching service and recommends you avoid Mark’s book Resilience at all costs. Mwahahaha!