August 7, 2004

the idea doesn't have to be big. it just has to change the world.


More thoughts on "How To Be Creative":

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

The two are not the same thing.
We all spend a lot of time being impressed by folk we've never met. Somebody featured in the media who's got a big company, a big product, a big movie, a big bestseller. Whatever.

And we spend even more time trying unsuccessfully to keep up with them. Trying to start up our own companies, our own products, our own film projects, books and whatnot.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I tried lots of different things over the years, trying desperately to pry my career out of the jaws of mediocrity. Some to do with business, some to do with art etc.

One evening, after one false start too many, I just gave up. Sitting at a bar, feeling a bit burned out by work and life in general, I just started drawing on the back of business cards for no reason. I didn't really need a reason. I just did it because it was there, because it amused me in a kind of random, arbitrary way.

Of course it was stupid. Of course it was uncommercial. Of course it wasn't going to go anywhere. Of course it was a complete and utter waste of time. But in retrospect, it was this built-in futility that gave it its edge. Because it was the exact opposite of all the "Big Plans" my peers and I were used to making. It was so liberating not to have to be thinking about all that, for a change.

It was so liberating to be doing something that didn't have to impress anybody, for a change.

It was so liberating to have something that belonged just to me and no one else, for a change.

It was so liberating to feel complete sovereignty, for a change. To feel complete freedom, for a change.

And of course, it was then, and only then, that the outside world started paying attention.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. How your own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will change the world far more than the the work's objective merits ever will.

Your idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.

The more amazing, the more people will click with your idea. The more people click with your idea, the more it will change the world.

That's what doodling on business cards taught me.

Posted by hugh macleod at August 7, 2004 10:38 AM | TrackBack

Fabulous explanation.

I agree with the sovereignty appeal. The art I produce is second in importance to the fact that I (yes, I) produced it -- it's that actualization of performing something only you can do that provides an adrenaline rush like nothing else.

Posted by: Justin Kownacki at August 7, 2004 4:50 PM

Inspiring commentary Hugh!
One other note about puberty:
I noticed people stopped smiling at me when I began sprouting hair under my arms. Just as quickly as my voice (think Al-falfa from the television) shot to the moon, people stopped making eye contact with me. It weirded me out and brought me to become generally more cautious with strangers. I thought, "Yesterday, they smiled at me. Why are they ignoring me now? And why do they look so darn serious?"

People love puppies, but are scared of big dogs.

Posted by: billyb at August 8, 2004 7:37 AM

People love puppies, but are scared of big dogs.

well at worst puppies might bite off a finger, and even then you still have another 9 spare. Big dogs can bite off an arm of which you only have one spare. Really it all just comes done to supply and demand.

or... you can shun both puppies and big dogs for the charms of cats, because although they are more adept at maiming than k9s, when they maim you you have a certain humbling sense of joy that such a superior being honoured you by interacting with you at all.

hey look... there goes the point

Posted by: the bellman at August 9, 2004 5:31 AM

Damn you for speaking the truth so well.

[Insert belly-laugh.]

Posted by: Love Detective at August 14, 2004 2:38 PM

but alas, how to make money from it? Sovereign rule of a kingdom with no assets (er, cash) means starvation, or worse.

Posted by: Mark Kleinhaut at August 16, 2004 7:37 PM