Recently, I reread Hugh MacLeod's "How to be Creative" manifesto. It's lengthy, but definitely worthwhile to read. He touches on several things that I hadn't originally thought to be issues, and he isn't afraid to call bullshit.

Here's how to be creative, according to MacLeod:

  1. Ignore everybody.
  2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
  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 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're willing to do, and what you're 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 you own shtick.
  26. Write from the heart.

He gets to the niggling heart of what keeps people from creating art, which usually boils down to some strange combination of fear, self-confidence and outside approval.