1. Hold on tight to your “why”. Why do you do this thing you do? It is the root of all you create and the power of your inspiration.
2. The “boss” is the problem; the puzzle to solve, the idea to create, the crowd to excite, or your soul to satisfy. Don’t piss off the boss.
3. There’s NO plan “B”. Quit moonlighting. Put in the hours; work without a net. If you have a plan “B” it’s too easy to bail, and you’ll want to. Part-timers can’t keep up with the guy who’s bustin’ it like a sex crazed school boy.
4. Ultimately it’s a passion play for pay. You’re a whore, or not, it all depends on how much money is in the bank. It’s a crucial balance that keeps sanity from escaping. Your clarity of purpose resolves the left and right hemispheres. Ultimately the decision for what kind of creative you are going to be is up to you, but don’t let the vision go blurry.
5. Industry best practices are not creative. Best practices are maintenance and benchmarking is linear; this leads to that, variation is less professional. Keep it clear: the state of your art didn’t arrive by formula or recipe.
6. Your creativity is about your heart, not their surface. Creativity is your world view filtered through your talent. It’s your passion, experience, expertise, inspiration and your rules that drive you to create wonderful things that you’re destined to hate because they’re not good enough, and others are open to admire because they couldn’t do it.
7. The committee is usually wrong; however the crowd is commonly right but incredibly dull. If you’re part of the crowd you will be sourced and forgotten; don’t be part of the crowd.
8. Ideas are like lightning strikes hitting you unaware even after you’ve been rubbing a balloon on a wool carpet for months.
9. Everyone is creative but only a select few can deal with the risk of ego crushing rejection that inevitably comes from the direction you least expect. If your work is worth more to you than the safety of groups or a secure fortune then you’re “a professional creative”.
10. That road block was dropped there for a reason; it’s so you learn how to maneuver or to accept the pain of hitting it. Either way, if you survive the test, it was worth the trip.
11. Find a way to turn your weaknesses into strengths, but don’t tell anyone you’re doing it so they don’t take advantage of your weaknesses. You’re probably the only one who knows the mistakes.
12. Putting creativity into words dilutes the idea unless you’re a writer. It’s only creative if you actually create it. “I could’ve done that” doesn’t count.
13. If you have a style, be sure it’s following you and not vice versa. If you’re chasing your style, you’ve taken a wrong turn. (see #5 “best practices”) Follow your muse, let others call it your style. Borrow from yourself as little as possible; lean into the fear.
14. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your passion. If you have a passion for an idea, don’t lose it by asking others if they think it’s good. They probably won’t.
15. Lose the habit of being successful. Success can doom your career to mediocrity. Embrace the fact that you’re never going to make it and find comfort in other things. Once success becomes your work, it’s over and if you’re a creative professional, success looks an awful lot like cash and cheering crowds.
16. Imagination is hot, execution is cold. The flame is elusive; if you must obsess about something, make it getting as close to the fire as possible. You can always cool off later.
17. Imagination accelerates in the abstract and slows with tangibility. Daydream, maintain vulnerability, innocence, and a sense of wonder so that your creativity stays vigorous.
18. Think disruptive thoughts, embrace chaos and be the sworn rival of systematic tidiness. Get in the face of tight systems that work well for no reason. There’s a problem to solve; choose the right one.
19. Snub expectations. Excitement needs space; throw a few elbows if required. Picasso’s friend and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire, encouraged his cohorts to “innovate violently! Much more risky for creative professionals, is to abide by rules.