Ignore everybody and 39 other keys to Creativity

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

This is a great book. Author pushes to hear your inner creative voice, be unique, and find your own DOOR.

Below are some quotes that affect and inspired me:


“If somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it’s probably because he works harder at it than you. Sure, maybe he’s more inherently talented, more adept at networking, but I don’t consider that an excuse. Over time, that advantage counts for less and less. Which is why the world is full of highly talented, network-savvy, failed mediocrities.”


“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.”


“Nobody can tell you if what you’re doing is good, or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.

So naturally ask yourself, if and when you finally come up with The Big Idea, after years of toil, struggle, and doubt, how do you know or not it is “The One”?

Answer: You don’t.

There’s no glorious swelling of existential triumph.

That’s not what happens.

All you get is this rather quiet, kvetchy voice inside you that seems to say, “This is totally stupid. This is utterly moronic. This is a complete waste of time. I’m going to do it anyway.”

And you go do it anyway.”



“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.”

So you’ve got the itch to do something.

Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for a fudge brownies into a proper business, build a better mousetrap, whatever.   …

You don’t know if you’re any good or not, but you think you could be. And the idea terrifies you. The problem is, even if you are good, you know nothing about this kind of business. You don’t know any publishers or agents or venture capitalists or any of these fancy-shmancy kind of folk.   ….

Heh. That’s not your wee voice asking for the crayons back. That’s your other voice, your adult voice, your boring and tedious voice trying to find way to get the wee crayon voice to shut the hell up.

Your wee voice doesn’t want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something. There’s a big difference. Your wee voice doesn’t give a damn about publishers, venture capitalists, or Hollywood producers.

Go ahead and make something. Make something really special.  Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.  …

So you have to listen to the wee voice or it will die…taking a big chunk of you along with it.

They’re only crayons. You didn’t fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now?”


“Since the modern, scientifically conceived corporation was intended in the early half of twentieth century, creativity has been sacrificed in favor of forwarding the interests of the “team player”.

Fair enough. There was more money in going it that way; that’s why they did it.

There’s only one problem. Team players are not very good  at creating value on their own. They are not autonomous; they need a team in order to exist.

So now corporations are awash with nonautonomous thinkers.   …

If you’re creative, if you can think independently, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did.    …

And if you don’t see yourself as particularly creative, that’s not reality, that’s a self-imposed limitation. Only you can decide whether you want to carry that around with you forever. Life is short.”


“…every kid with guitar or a pen or a paintbrush or an idea for a new business wants to be exceptional. Every kid underestimates his competition, and overestimates his chances. Every kid sucker for the idea that there’s a way to make it without having to do the actual hard work.

So the bars … are awash with people throwing their life away in the desperate hope of finding a shortcut, any shortcut. And a lot of them aren’t even young anymore….”


“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 from what you are not.

Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.”


“Stop worrying about technology. start worrying about people who trust you.  …

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, is 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.”


“Diluting your product to make it more “commercial” will just make people like it less.”


“Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.”


“Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually. Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around.”


“A Picasso always looks like Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven symphony always sounds like a Beethoven symphony. Part of being master is learning how to sing in nobody else’s voice but your own. Every artist is looking for their big, definitive “Ah-Ha!” moment, whether they’re a master or not. That moment where they find their true voice, once and for all. …

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. …

Put your whole self into it, and you will find your true voice. Hold back and you won’t. It’s that simple.”


“The best way to get approval is not to need it. This is equally true in art and business. And love. And sex. And just about everything else worth having.”


“Power is never given. Power is taken. … what “taking power” means. Not needing anything from another person in order to be the best in the world.”


“There’s a famous old quip: “A lot of people in business say they have twenty years’ experience, when in fact all they really have is one years’ experience, repeated twenty times.”

One Response to “Ignore everybody and 39 other keys to Creativity”

  1. I am writing an epic poem in blank verse about evolution and scientists from Thales to Einstein. I am on Epicurus now at 25,000 lines. The final version I think will be 200,000 lines. I write about 100 lines a night after a I work all day as a cartographer and geospatial analyst. Crazy and ambitious! Nothing will stop me because it has got to be done. Grin.


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