Bestseller Seth Godin offers worthy advice and tactics to anyone who wants to create and must confront the fears and obstacles that all creatives face.
Bestseller Seth Godin urges you to commit to a daily creative practice no matter how you feel. This means doing the work, even when the outcome remains mysterious and a payoff elusive. Godin acknowledges the psychological burdens of fighting to express yourself and provides practical advice and inspiration for all creatives.
Creativity takes courage and is a choice.
If you want to change your story, change your actions first. When we choose to act a certain way, our mind can’t help but rework our narrative to make those actions become coherent. We become what we do.Seth Godin
If you believe the story in your head, you work hard to keep your life consistent with that story. Your story might be one of victimhood, fear or low expectations. But, proclaims Godin, the practice is available to everyone who’s willing.
Art is “the generous act of making things better by doing something that might not work.” When you engage in art, you begin a journey with an unclear outcome. Individuals searching for better ways of doing things created all human society and culture.
The magic is that there is no magic. Start where you are. Don’t stop.Seth Godin
Art is an act of service you perform for other people, Godin believes. Receiving your work is their job; giving generously is yours.
Every day you commit to eating, to driving, to watching TV shows or movies. Each day, you gaze at your phone, tidy the house and check your email. Godin urges you to take a similar commitment to your creativity.
Show us your hour spent on the practice and we’ll show you your creative path.Seth Godin
Trust that you can spend an hour each day on your creative pursuit. That’s the practice.
Don’t wait until it feels authentic to start your practice, Godin advises. Don’t wait until you’re in the perfect emotional state. Don’t wait for the muse. The muse will remain elusive until you embrace your practice.
Flow is the result of effort. The muse shows up when we do the work. Not the other way around. Seth Godin
You can’t control how you feel. It’s much easier to control your actions than your feelings, and taking action often changes how you feel. Commit to your creative practice even when you’re not in the mood.
The negative artist and the positive artist engage in the practice; the negative artist suffers more. Pessimism prepares you for disappointment. Instead of shielding yourself with cynicism, feel honored to participate to create.
Everyone can find a valid excuse to do nothing. Every single person who creates runs into friction. All face fear. Acknowledge your fear, Godin says, and reply with “yes, and…”
If a reason doesn’t stop everyone, it’s an excuse, not an actual roadblock.Seth Godin
“Yes, and…” is the core of improvisational theatrical companies everywhere. When you’re standing on stage, have no memorized lines, and your improv team member lobs you a scenario, you say yes. Then you add to it. Saying no is a way to regain control when you’re scared. Say “yes, and…” instead.
The industrial economy operates on a simple promise: If you comply hard enough, you’ll be given what you need to survive within a scarce system. If you follow the preset recipe for success, you’ll gain prizes and status. This is how society teaches you to focus on outcome rather than the process. Regrettably, Godin says, many people find that the rewards and status aren’t as bountiful and don’t come as often as they expected they would. They signed away their souls to follow a guaranteed recipe, only to find that no guarantees existed.
If you want to pursue creative work, abandon the recipe and try something new. There’s a good chance that your actions might not produce the desired outcome, at least not at first. You can’t control your outcomes. You can only control your practice. So commit to the practice, not to the outcome.
Share Your Idiosyncrasies
The industrialized economy intends workers to be interchangeable. Workers had to hide their quirks and pretend not to be weird to keep their jobs. Today, unique people earn the rewards – and are irreplaceable.
Your work is useless if not shared. Only you have your distinct voice. Some people operate under the mistaken fear that they’ll run out of ideas, or that others will steal their ideas. In fact, says Godin, the opposite is true. Community multiplies your ideas, creating abundance. Isolation leads to lack.
The best method for learning to juggle requires throwing one ball, over and over, and never attempting to catch it. The novice juggler must simply watch the ball as it falls to the ground. This prioritizes accurate throws over accurate catches. If a novice juggler focuses on catching, he or she will leave their position to catch an errant ball. When a juggler is out of position, he or she is lost. The novice juggler must resist focusing on the catch.
This method is deeply uncomfortable for most people, because they’ve been brainwashed by society to think outcome is paramount. People who can’t tolerate letting the ball drop to the ground usually can’t learn to juggle. According to Godin, those who persevere through the discomfort learn a vital lesson: Process is more important than outcome. Commitment to process leads to success. When the novice juggler stays in position and masters accurate throws, catching becomes easy. It’s the process that matters, not the outcome.
Believe in Yourself
Receiving money for your work allows you to do more of it. Money is how your audience demonstrates the value of your art.
Finding better clients isn’t easy, partly because we don’t trust ourselves enough to imagine that we deserve them.Seth Godin
You want clients to push you to produce, hold you to demanding deadlines, and require outstanding work, because those clients pay you more. To attract these better clients, transform yourself into the professional they want to hire.
Commit to the generous path and trust yourself to continue. Committing to the practice shows respect for your potential.
It is better to follow your own path, however imperfectly, than to follow someone else’s perfectly.The Bhagavad Gita
Your path will differ from your hero’s path. Your art matters, and, as Godin points out, only you can make your art.
Godin’s message could comprise a single sentence. Or maybe two. But that’s not what makes bestsellers. What makes bestsellers is repeating the same worthy, actionable advice over and over in different forms and from different angles, each intended to sink the advice deeper into your brain. Godin is a genius at writing best-selling advice. Which would not be best-selling if it weren’t inspirational, comprehensible and entertaining. Even professional creatives will benefit from Godin’s urging to ignore fear and embrace perseverance. Amateur creatives may well leap over any psychological blocks with Godin’s help.
Seth Godin also wrote Permission Marketing; Free Prize Inside!; and All Marketers Are Liars.