Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. SUMMARY – This book did not impress me. Forty chapters of often heard advice for how to stick with it, not keys to creativity like the title suggests. Centered around the author’s life experience and success he has found at drawing on the back of business cards and posting them to his own blog, MacLeod offers advice in bite size pieces without much substance. Even the inclusion of his artwork is minimal, with the best and most humorous being the two on the “about the author” part of the dust jacket. The author himself sums up the book thus, “Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Create your own luck. Be nice. Be polite.” To me, none of these unlock creativity. More or less it is a book about tenacity and manners in a field that may break you down if you aren’t met with success or filled with joy when faced with menial tasks. A couple of chapters were good reminders, good to keep close at hand for those moments when you need a good “chin up!” One of the tips that stuck out to me came from chapter 7 “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.” It goes on to say that “then when you hit puberty they take away the crayons and replace them with dry, uninspiring books.” Years later we may hear a voice that says, “I’d like my crayons back, please.” Its about this inner drive we have as humans to create for the sole reason of enriching our soul, not to market it, not to make a living, not for a grade, but for the pleasure of it. And it might not be a drawing or a recording but it is the creative act of decorating our personal space, or surrounding ourselves with pleasing melody while we hum, or filling the kitchen with delicious smells. It is that creativity
strikes in many ways and that we need to embrace it. The author’s points in Tip 33: “Allow your work to age with you” and Tip 38: “Meaning Scales, people don’t” seem to apply to the reading of this book as well with various chapters standing out at different times to different people. At the time I read it, the tips that were most resonant with me were Tip 28: “The best way to get approval is not to need it” & Tip 29: “Power is never given. Power is taken.” My latest creative act, redesigning art curriculum in the wake of CCSS, needed this reminder, but I think my more advanced students can benefit from this as well. In response to a rough portfolio review or a poor AP score, for example. CREATIVITY CONNECTIONS – Again, the subtitle of this book is very misleading. This is not a book about creativity. It is a book about tenacity and fortitude. It is a motivational book about keeping at it. Here are the authors 40 tips: 1. Ignore Everybody
21. The choice of media is irrelevant.
2. The idea doesn’t have to be big, it just
22. Selling out is harder than it looks.
has to be yours. 3. Put the hours in.
23. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
4. Good ideas have lonely childhoods.
24. Worrying about “ Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time
5. If your business plan depends on suddenly being “discovered” by some big
25. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
shot, your plan will probably fail. 6. You are responsible for your own
26. You have to find your own schtick.
experience. 7. Everyone is born creative; everyone is
27. Write from the heart.
given a box of crayons in kindergarten 8. Keep your day job.
28. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
9. Companies that squelch creativity can no
29. Power is never given. Power is taken.
longer compete with companies that champion creativity. 10. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb. 11. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props. 12. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd;
30. Whatever choice you make, the Devil gets his due eventually. 31. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it. 32. Remain frugal.
avoid crowds all together. 13. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt
33. Allow your work to age with you.
you. 14. Never compare your inside with
34. Being poor sucks.
somebody else’s outside. 15. Dying young is overrated.
35. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.
16 The most important thing a creative
36. Savor obscurity while it lasts.
person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not. 17. The world is changing
37. Start blogging.
18. Merit can be bought. Passion Can’t.
38. Meaning scales, people don’t.
19. Avoid the water cooler gang.
39. When your dreams become reality, they are no longer your dreams.
20. Sing in your own voice.
40. None of this is rocket science.
CLASSROOM IMPLICATIONS & APPLICATIONS – Since this book isn’t really about creativity, its hard for me to make connections to the classroom in this way. What I could see this being used for is almost in an advice giving way. Almost as fortune cookies of encouragement. Or more meaningful platitudes to be written in yearbooks for those graduating seniors going off to art school or into the big blue yonder of life.