Those that know me, they know how much I hate those pre-packaged 'recipes for life' so common here in the US. They know how much I dispise most of the 'self help' books available and how little I care for the "ultimate list to..." or any other piece of information that pretends to give quick solutions by oversimplifying not so simple concepts.
When someone approaches me with this new book or last article about "How to sucess in business" (..."be rich", "have friends", "be more creative", feel free to change the last part at will...) I normally glance at their index, I choose a chapter about something I actually know about, and I read part of that chapter.
If, as it happens most of the time, is just another horrible oversimplification, my answer (at least in my head) tends to be the same: "if it is so easy, it would just take to read this book, right? How come we do not have more rich/friendly/creative/you-name-it people, considering the book was a best seller in so-and-so list?".
Now, there is a reason why I always check one chapter of the book or a line in the article. The reason is what I consider the "golden rule of the rules" and is the simple and well known fact that all rules have exceptions.
The same here. There are exceptions. From time to time, there is a book, an article a "recipe" for life or business, that are really worth reading. Not to be taken as the "truth revealed" either, but they are good. They have simplified things just a little but most of what they say holds true.
That is the case with the list conceived by Hugh MacLeod, an advertising executive and popular blogger with a flair for the creative. Here is the short list (that is then expanded by the author making it, for good, not so simple). It can be applied to almost any aspect, with some -again- some exceptions.
So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:
1. Ignore everybody.
2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours.
3. Put the hours in.
4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
5. You are responsible for your own experience.
6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
7. Keep your day job.
8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
14. Dying young is overrated.
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.
16. The world is changing.
17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
19. Sing in your own voice.
20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
24. Don't worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
25. You have to find your own schtick.
26. Write from the heart.
27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
28. Power is never given. Power is taken.
29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
31. Remain frugal.
32. Allow your work to age with you.
33. Being Poor Sucks.
34. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.
35. Savor obscurity while it lasts.
36. Start blogging.
Now, I invite you to read the list with his own explanations on each item while enjoying his drawings, as each point has been illustrated by a cartoon drawn by the author himself. And if you want to have it in .PDF to send it around, you can also download the complete list with the drawings from ChangeThis, one of my favorites sites for short manifestos.