The best advice to creatives ever: you have to go through a volume of work

Posted on March 10th, 2015

When I lived in Byron (writing my first book) I used to drive to my friend Annie’s house in the hills for dinner on Sundays. I timed it to listen to Ira Glass on This American Life. I’d time it so I could pull over in the really mind-expanding, precipace-thinking bits. Not listened to one of Ira’s meandering, whimsical interviews about life? You should.

Image via Skipholt.

Image via Skipholt.

I love Ira. And I don’t think I’ve come across better advice than this for anyone who hurts, frets, doubts doing creative work. Which is most of us, really.

The gist is this:

1. Creatives know they have taste. They know they have a vision, an idea that could be special. It burns in them.

2. But when they start out in their respective realms, their output doesn’t match up to their vision. There’s a gap. They know their work isn’t special enough… and so…

3. Creatives hurt, fret and doubt… and then often quit.

But Ira shares:

4. This is normal.

5. The most important thing you can do is… more work. The only way to close the gap is to “go through a volume of work”. Read more

Being creative can be a lonely path

Posted on July 18th, 2014

I loved reading about this new study into the connection between creativity and mental illness. It effectively found that creativity has little correlation with genius. While there is a connection with a highish IQ  (the “average” creative has an IQ around 120), the real nexus is with a touch of madness. But more specifically (and interestingly), a particular ability to see things others don’t.

Image via

Image via

The author’s final conclusion on the Thing that denotes creativity is this:

“Creative people are better at recognising relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way—seeing things that others cannot see.”

He goes on to say that this ability to see things differently can be a very lonely experience…which, in turn, he feels, explains the mental illness nexus.

A quote from his own writing on the subject:

“When you work at the cutting edge, you are likely to bleed.”

It would appear mad to go to the cutting edge if it were only painful. But here comes my favourite bit, the bit that made me Read more

why it’s good to give your stuff for free

Posted on March 28th, 2012

I like this story: Trevor from Youth Lagoon recently told my friend Tim (who told me) that back before he was Somebody he decided to release his first single “July” on Bandcamp for free. Everyone told him he was mad. That he should monetise his efforts. But then the track went viral. And he got fans. And Youth Lagoon got big.

We know this kind of story, yeah?

by Lee Basford via advice to sink in slowly

It’s The New Creativity. Give first. See what happens next.

PS: you might like to listen to “July” while you read the rest of this:

Seth Godin first explained the beauty of this concept to me early one morning on Skype. We chatted, quite literally, about the point of existence. He told me it’s about “shipping”.

“Real artists ship,” he says. You can fiddle and perfect and rehearse for a while. But then – fire up! – we have to press send or call in UPS to pick up our contribution to the planet – whether it be a report, a love letter, a meal, a blog post. That’s the point. Which is not far off my “quit the rehearsals, skip to the play” theory from last week.

Art is something we offer as a gift to humanity, Seth tells me. Read more