Practice productive procrastination
It’s the side projects that really take off. stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s when the magic happens.
it’s good to have a lot of projects going at once so you can bounce between them. When you get sick of one project, move over to another. Practice productive procrastination.
Take time to be bored. One time I heard a coworker say, “When I get busy, I get stupid.”
If you’re out of ideas, wash the dishes. Take a really long walk. Stare at a spot on the wall for as long as you can.
Get lost. Wander.
Don't throw any of yourself away
don’t feel like you have to pick and choose. Keep all your passions in your life.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.”
-- Steve Jobs
What unifies all of your work is the fact that you made it.
If you love different things, “Let them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen.”
ather than the music taking away from my writing, I find it interacting with my writing and making it better.
6. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people
In the beginning, obscurity is good
“How do I get discovered?”
The classroom is a wonderful place. Never again in your life will you have such a captive audience.
Soon after, you learn that most of the world doesn’t necessarily care about what you think. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. As the writer Steven Pressfield says, “It’s not that people are mean or cruel, they’re just busy.”
This is actually a good thing, because you want attention only after you’re doing really good work. There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it. When you’re unknown, there’s nothing to distract you from getting better. No public image to manage.
You’ll never get that freedom back again once people start paying you attention, and especially not once they start paying you money.
Enjoy your obscurity while it lasts. Use it.
The not-so-secret formula
Do good work and share it with people.
There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Know you’re going to suck for a while. Fail. Get better.
“Put your stuff on the Internet.”
Step 1: Wonder at something. Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.
ou should wonder at the things nobody else is wondering about.
The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work.
There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets.
Bob Ross taught people how to paint. He gave his secrets away.
People love it when you give your secrets away.
When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn. I’ve learned so much.
You don’t put yourself online only because you have something to say—you can put yourself online to find something to say. The Internet can be more than just a resting place to publish your finished ideas—it can also be an incubator for ideas that aren’t fully formed, a birthing center for developing work that you haven’t started yet.
Having a container can inspire us to fill it.
Share your dots, but don't connect them.
Show just a little bit of what you’re working on.
Share a little glimpse of your process.
Share a handy tip you’ve discovered while working. Mention a good book you’re reading.
7. Geography is no longer our master
Build your own world
If you feel stuck somewhere, There’s a community of people out there you can connect with.
Surround yourself with books and objects that you love. Tape things up on the wall. Create your own world.
“It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you.”
-- Franz Kafka
“Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”
-- Jonah Lehrer
Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. when the world looks new, our brains work harder.
Personally, I think bad weather leads to better art. You don’t want to go outside, so you stay inside and work.
8. Be nice (the Internet is a small town)
Make friends, ignore enemies
There's only one reason I'm here: I'm here to make friends.
“There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.”
-- Kurt Vonnegut
Stand next to the talent
“The only mofos in my circle are people that I can learn from.”
“Find the most talented person in the room, and if it’s not you, go stand next to him. Hang out with him. Try to be helpful.”
If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.
Write fan letters
the trouble with fan letters is that there’s built-in pressure for the recipient to respond.
“The best way to get approval is to not need it.”
If you truly love somebody’s work, you shouldn’t need a response from them.
public fan letters: The Internet is really good for this. Write a blog post about someone’s work that you admire and link to their site. Make something and dedicate it to your hero. Answer a question they’ve asked, solve a problem for them, or improve on their work and share it online.
Maybe your hero will see your work, maybe he or she won’t. Maybe they’ll respond to you, maybe not. The important thing is that you show your appreciation without expecting anything in return.
Validation is for parking
Once you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it.
get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored—the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.
Keep a praise file
I put every really nice e-mail I get in a special folder. When those dark days roll around and I need a boost, I open that folder and read through a couple e-mails. Then I get back to work.
don’t get lost in past glory—but keep it around for when you need the lift.
9. Be boring (it's the only way to get work done)
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
-- Gustave Flaubert
Take care of yourself
It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.
Neil Young sang, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” I say it’s better to burn slow and see your grandkids.
Stay out of debt
Do yourself a favor: Learn about money as soon as you can.
Live within your means. The art of holding on to money is all about saying no to consumer culture.
Keep your day job
A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art.
The worst thing a day job does is take time away from you, but it makes up for that by giving you a daily routine.
Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.
Inertia is the death of creativity.
The solution is really simple: Figure out what time you can carve out, what time you can steal, and stick to your routine. Do the work every day, no matter what. No holidays, no sick days. Don’t stop.
Work gets done in the time available.
Get yourself a calendar
building a career is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time.
A calendar helps you plan work, gives you concrete goals, and keeps you on track.
Get a calendar. Fill the boxes. Don’t break the chain.
Keep a logbook
list the things you do every day.
you’d be amazed at how helpful having a daily record like this can be, especially over several years. The small details will help you remember the big details.
In the old days, a logbook was a place for sailors to keep track of how far they’d traveled, and that’s exactly what you’re doing—keeping track of how far your ship has sailed.
“If you ask yourself ‘What’s the best thing that happened today?’ it actually forces a certain kind of cheerful retrospection that pulls up from the recent past things to write about that you wouldn’t otherwise think about. If you ask yourself ‘What happened today?’ it’s very likely that you’re going to remember the worst thing, because you’ve had to deal with it—you’ve had to rush somewhere or somebody said something mean to you—that’s what you’re going to remember. But if you ask what the best thing is, it’s going to be some particular slant of light, or some wonderful expression somebody had, or some particularly delicious salad.”
-- Nicholson Baker
Who you marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make. And “marry well” doesn’t just mean your life partner—it also means who you do business with, who you befriend, who you choose to be around.
A good partner keeps you grounded.
10. Creativity is substraction
Choose what you leave out
In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them.
Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.
place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.
Write a song on your lunch break. Paint a painting with only one color. Start a business without any start-up capital. Shoot a movie with your iPhone.
make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.
Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.
“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want—that just kills creativity.”
-- Jack White
In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out.
Choose wisely. And have fun.
- Talk a walk
- Start your swipe file
- Go to the library
- Buy a notebook and use it
- Get yourself a calendar
- Start your logbook
- Give a copy of this book away Start a blog
- Take a nap
- Linda Barry, What It Is
- Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody
- Jason Fried + David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework
- Lewis Hyde, The Gift
- Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence
- David Shields, Reality Hunger
- Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
- Ed Emberley, Make a World
Make things for people you love. For people you want to meet.