“People claim to want to do something that matters, yet they measure themselves against things that don’t, and track their progress not in years but in microseconds. They want to make something timeless, but they focus instead on immediate payoffs and instant gratification.”
This morning I found myself reviewing the notes I had taken from Ryan Holiday’s most recent book ‘Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts’. I picked up the book on a whim really, as I was waiting for an update to finishing installing on my computer. This isn’t going to be a book review, but there are five lessons or key ideas that I wanted to share from the first chapter ‘The Creative Process: From the Mindset to the Making to the Magic’:
Compare two creators; one who cares less about what he’s making and more about what it can do for him (make money), and another who, upon sitting down, says, “This is my life’s work” or “This is what I was put on this planet to make.” Who would you bet on?
Rick Rubin urges his artists not to think about what’s currently on the airwaves. “If you listen to the greatest music ever made, that would be a better way,” he says, “to find your own voice to matter today then listening to what’s on the radio and thinking: ‘I want to compete with this.’ It’s stepping back and looking at the bigger picture than what’s going on at the moment.” He also urges them not to constrain themselves simply to their medium for inspiration-you might be better off drawing inspiration from the world’s greatest museums than, say, finding in in the current Billboard charts.
Creating is often a solitary experience. Yet work made entirely in isolation is usually doomed to remain lonely.
You don’t have to be a genius to make genius-you just have to have small moments of brilliance and edit out the boring stuff.
The screenwriting guru and story legend Robert McKee told me that he isn’t sure a person can write something great on purpose. But he is certain that we need to do our best on every component part. “I don’t think anyone can actually set out consciously to produce a masterpiece,” he said. “I think what we do is to tell the best story we can, the best way we can, and produce it in the best way possible, and then see how the world reacts to it.” Ignore what other people are doing. Ignore what’s going on around you. There is no competition. There is no objective benchmark to hit. There is simply the best that you can do; that’s all that matters.