Book Review: Ignore Everybody
“Nobody can tell you if what you’re doing is good, meaningful, or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is. ” Hugh MacLeod
When you work in a creative field, it's easy to lose sight of the "wins" - easy to think of validation as a function of income, recognition, or praise. There is almost always a gap (as this amazing video demonstrates) between what you want to make and what you actually make. You know when what you make isn't good, and it's painful.
Discouragement is lurking around every corner.
For those reasons, it's important to keep a stash of reading material handy to remind you to keep going; to create without regard to the ruts, to ignore the lulls and the imperfection.
On my short list is The Artist's Way, The Creative Habit, and Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
I read MacLeod's word like tough love. For instance, his opinion of "writer's block" is just one step away from saying "it's not a thing."
“Writer's block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you should feel the need to say something. Why? If you have something to say, then say it. If not, enjoy the silence while it lasts. The noise will return soon enough.”
And when it comes to perseverance, he essentially says don't be immature.
“If your business plan depends on suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail. Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.”
That quote doesn't entirely pick up MacLeod's tone which is a perfect mixture of push and pull. He builds a compelling case that we all are creative and acknowledging this fact doesn't mean we will erase the tension.
"The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.”
Tough love on every page...
“The hunger will give you everything and it will take from you, everything. It will cost you your life, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. But knowing this, of course, is what ultimately sets you free.”
Ruthless honesty is MacLeod's strong suit. I love every word. Freedom is ultimately what you feel at the end of this book. You realize sometimes the wisdom of the crowd isn't smart for individuals.
My favorite quote is this one which I've used before on this blog because it's so true...
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, 'I'd like my crayons back, please.'”
We all need to listen to our wee voice.