Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity – by Hugh MacLeod

How strongly I recommend it: 7/10
See my lists of books for more.

Go to the Amazon page for details.
Great lessons not only in creativity, but fundamental life changing thoughts.


Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet. If you have it, I envy you. If you don’t, I pity you.
Sure, nobody’s perfect. We all have our pillars. We seem to need them. You are never going to live a pillar-free existence. Neither am I.
All we can do is keep asking the question, “Is this a pillar?” about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive, and go from there. The more we ask, the better we get at spotting pillars, the more quickly the pillars vanish.
Ask. Keep asking. And then ask again. Stop asking and you’re dead.
The old ways are dead. And you need people around you who concur.
That means hanging out more with the creative people, the freaks, the real visionaries, than you’re already doing. Thinking more about what their needs are, and responding accordingly. It doesn’t matter what industry we’re talking about—architecture, advertising, petrochemicals—they’re around, they’re easy enough to find if you make the effort, if you’ve got something worthwhile to offer in return. Avoid the dullards; avoid the folk who play it safe. They can’t help you anymore. Their stability model no longer offers that much stability. They are extinct; they are extinction.
Merit can be bought. Passion can’t
The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.
Part of understanding the creative urge is understanding that it’s primal. Wanting to change the world is not a noble calling, it’s a primal calling.
We think we’re “Providing a superior integrated logistic system” or “Helping America to really taste Freshness.” In fact we’re just pissed off and want to get the hell out of the cave and kill the woolly mammoth.
Your business either lets you go hunt the woolly mammoth or it doesn’t. Of course, as with so many white-collar jobs these days, you might very well be offered a ton of money to sit in the corner-office cave and pretend that you’re hunting, even if you’re not, even if you’re just pushing pencils. That is sad. What’s even sadder is that you agreed to take the money.
EVERY ARTIST IS LOOKING FOR THEIR BIG, definitive “Ah-Ha!” moment, whether they’re a master or not.
That moment where they finally find their true voice, once and for all.
For me, it was when I discovered drawing on the backs of business cards.
Other, more famous, and far more notable examples would be Jackson Pollock discovering splatter paint. Or Robert Ryman discovering all-white canvases. Andy Warhol discovering silk-screen. Hunter S. Thompson discovering gonzo journalism. Duchamp discovering the found object. Jasper Johns discovering the American flag. Hemingway discovering brevity. James Joyce discovering stream-of-consciousness prose.
Was it luck? Perhaps a little bit. But it wasn’t the format that made the art great. It was the fact that somehow while playing around with something new, suddenly they found they were able to put their entire selves into it.
Only then did it become their “shtick,” their true voice, etc. That’s what people responded to. The humanity, not the form. The voice, not the form.
Put your whole self into it, and you will find your true voice. Hold back and you won’t. It’s that simple.
Remain frugal
Part of being creative is learning how to protect your freedom. That includes freedom from avarice.
Start blogging
Put some of your ideas on a blog and get them “out there.” Eventually the fish will start biting. Just remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes a couple of years of continual posting to build up enough trust to where people are willing to invest in you financially. But you never know. It could be a couple of months, it could take a couple of years. But it certainly beats a decade waiting tables in Manhattan.
Over the next year or two watching the cartoons traveling about, watching what other bloggers were up to, I started getting a pretty good feel for how the Internet actually worked, not just how the journalists and marketing folk told people it worked. After a while I started posting my thoughts about this brave new world online. And after a while people started e-mailing me, offering to pay me good money if I would share more of what I had learned online with them.
Sharing this information for me was a lot more fun and better paid than trying to sell ads to clients, so hey, I went for it.
So far I’ve managed to turn it into a pretty nice business. A lot more money, for a lot less stress and time than Madison Avenue ever offered me. Not a bad outcome.
The thing is, none of it happened on purpose. It just kinda sorta happened, one random event at a time.
None of this is rocket science
Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Create your own luck. Be nice. Be polite.