A young painter who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.
When I read that quote, it immediately resonated.
I can’t paint. But I believe that this quote’s meaning can apply to me. And if you do creative work of any kind, it can apply to you too.
Take the quote and try replacing the word ‘painter’ with ‘writer’ or ‘musician’ or ‘creative person.’
A young creative person who cannot liberate himself from the influence of past generations is digging his own grave.
To me, this quote is about the importance of embracing what today has to offer. It’s about rolling with the punches. It’s about learning from your domain’s past work, but also freeing yourself from that work.
It’s about appreciating the present time you live in, and adapting to it.
Image by meeshypants (Creative Commons)
When you think of Eminem, how do you believe he became such a megastar?
Would you say it’s because he’s a talented, gifted wordsmith? If you would, you’re about half right.
Eminem’s technical skills—everything from penning tight lyrics to composing enthralling beats—are phenomenal. He’s a Hip Hop legend.
But that’s not the only reason he’s successful. Actually, that’s only half the story.
Eminem As a Marketer?
Yes, Eminem also knew how to market his work. He knew how to self-promote, network.
This shocked me. If you’re an Eminem fan, it might shock you too.
Image by HikingArtist.com (Creative Commons)
“I want to be one of those guys.”
Saying these eight words will help you be successful.
I recently watched HBO’s Talking Funny, where comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais talked about comedy. Initially I tuned in because I’m a huge fan of Louis CK, but I enjoyed a few of their interesting insights as well.
One particular insight that fascinated me was how they had similar mindsets at the start of their careers. At one point Louis CK asks Seinfeld what made him get back on stage after bombing his first set. Seinfeld explains:
Success wasn’t my objective. It was just ‘I want to be one of those guys’. If I can be one of those guys, then I win everything. Money was not the thing. So once I stepped on there for the first time, that’s it—I’m now one of these guys. I’m just going to keep doing this.
Image by DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons)
On Monday, I spoke about the elements of deliberate practice. Today I want to talk about an extraordinary technique Benjamin Franklin used to become an exceptional writer (explained more deeply in Geoffrey Colvin’s book Talent Is Overrated).
Ben Franklin was one of the most exceptional and influential writers of the 18th Century. But how did he get so good?
Apparently through intense practice designed to shore up his weaknesses. His story is awesome.
When Franklin was a teenager, he would write letters and send them back and forth with a friend from school. His father looked at one particular letter—the topic was whether woman should be educated—and pointed out his son’s strengths and weaknesses.
Young, studious Franklin thought about his father’s constructive criticism—it smacked him in the gut. He took it seriously and did something pretty extraordinary. First, he gathered a series of superbly written essays. Then he’d scrutinize an article and make notes on the meaning of each sentence.
Image by Stephen A. Wolfe (Creative Commons)
Be intentional about improving your skills—that’s the point I want to communicate in todays article.
I learned this lesson after reading Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin—a book about achieving excellence through something he calls ‘deliberate practice’.
Unfortunately, many creative people don’t practice deliberately.
They just ‘practice’. They just do their work.
They go through the motions, put in the hours—without sweating. And they think that by passively pounding on their craft over and over, they’re improving.
Who knows—maybe they are. But they’re likely not getting much better.
Lessons for Creative People is a book about achieving success on your creative journey. The purpose is to get you, the creator, back to doing the thing you were meant to do.
In this Book, You’ll Learn:
- How some eminent creative thinkers and artists turned their lives around from the depths of despair to achieve profound success.
- New ways of looking at the world that’ll help you overcome four mental blocks—dependency, negativity, a divided self, and procrastination.
- How to become a more independent artist, how to bounce back from failures and setbacks, how to create with more authenticity and excellence, and how to work and live with fierce sense of urgency.
Do you feel that you have a creative calling in life that you’re not going after? Do you desire to write an excellent book, make a living from your paintings, launch an acting career, or lift your rock band to the next level?
If you answered yes, then Lessons for Creative People will help equip you for the long, tough journey that awaits you.
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