Clear-Minded Classic #4: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

June 7, 2011

Ignore Everybody is a brilliantly inspiring little book by former copywriter turned artist (he’s most famous for his witty cartoons on the back of business cards),blogger (at gapingvoid.com) and internet marketer Hugh MacLeod.

How to be Creative

The book started out in life as the free manifesto “How to Be Creative”. This manifesto is still available for free, without the need to handover your email address, at the wonderful Change This website (which a few other superb manifestos for clear-minded creative types which I’ll be talking about here soon also).

According to MacLeod, it has now been downloaded a staggering 4.5m times. Wow! Clearly a lot of people out there have an interest in creativity.

Short but Sweet

Ignore Everybody is an expanded version of the free ebook. Do you need it if you’ve already read/downloaded the PDF? Well no, you don’t need it quite frankly, because you’ve got the bulk of it already, but it does have a fair bit of extra stuff that makes it worth getting if you found the ebook inspiring.There are 26 tips in the PDF, and 40 in the book, and the extra ones are equally worth reading.

Plus, who wants to sit at a computer screen reading a PDF when you could be reading it with your feet up on the chaise longue sipping an extravagant cocktail?

It won’t take you long to read the entire thing of course, but then again it’s the kind of book you can turn to again and again when you need some inspiration or a short sharp kick up the arse (creatively speaking).

Speaking of which, it would be perfect for the bathroom bookshelf, should you like to read on the toilet (not that you would publicly admit to such a thing, of course). And it would certainly make a great gift for someone else in your life who’s in need of creative inspiration.

Sex and Cash

The thing about MacLeod’s advice is, it’s hard-hitting, and no nonsense. All that copywriting experience hasn’t gone to waste – not a word is out of place or unnecessary, and he really hits the nail on the head with every sentence.

The original Change This manifesto

He tells us that we are all born creative, but that matters little unless we put the work in. He also suggests that having full ownership over your creativity is the most important thing you can do.

And for that reason, MacLeod actually advises you to keep your day job, so that you keep your passion about the creative work you really care about.

His ‘sex and cash’ theory describes the former as “the kind of work that pays the bills” whilst the latter is “the sexy, creative kind”. Now in his own case, this may have been good advice, considering he was a copywriter in a New York advertising agency – at least his day job involved a fair amount of creativity and was presumably very well paid.

Not all of us are so lucky – if you’re miserable in your day job, this particular piece of advice is perhaps up for debate.

I think if you’re creative, you should aim to find work which allows you to use that creativity as much as possible. You just might not get paid for doing your favourite form of creativity.  I know when I play my songs on the guitar that as much as I enjoy it, it will never be something I do for a living, because I have never invested the time to get really good at it.

So I get what he’s saying in that respect. Having said that, lots of people do manage to make their living as an artist, and enjoy it, so I think he’s perhaps a little bit wide of the mark on this occasion.

No bull

Apart from that small niggle, there is a lot of great advice. One of my favourite headings is “Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.” Brilliantly put.

But this is no softly softly, self-help feelgood love-in. Like MacLeod’s frequently foul-mouthed and often dark cartoons, this can be hard-hitting stuff. How about this quote from “Being Poor Sucks”:

To deny the importance of the material world around you (and its hard currencies) is to detach yourself from reality. And the world will punish you hard, eventually, for that.

Or this subheader to “Allow your work to age with you”:

You become older faster than you think. Be ready for when it happens.

And of course, this from “Nobody cares. Do it for yourself”:

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, screenplay etc

Personally I find his no-bullshit style totally refreshing and invigorating. I prefer to hear the truth, because kidding yourself, or deluding yourself about reality means you will never improve it. And I think the honest advice in this book, which clearly comes from at times bitter experience, could really help you improve your reality if you are struggling to come to terms with how you can be both creative and happy in this complex world.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you download How to Be Creative for free from the Change This website – and then if you want more and you want it in ye olde style dead tree format you could always buy Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity  from Amazon.co.uk
or Amazon.com. It’s also available on the Kindle Store UK and Kindle Store US (all Amazon links are affiliate links).

Milo

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This article was written by Milo McLaughlin and published on www.clearmindedcreative.com. Milo is a copywriter, multimedia content producer and creative coach based in Edinburgh Scotland. He is the founder of Clear-Minded Creative, which provides inspiration, support and practical advice to help talented people forge a new path in life.

4 responses to Clear-Minded Classic #4: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

  1. the work thing is a bugger – but it is important to remember that you are not owed a living as an artist. It is however up to you to create a life where your artist side can be nurtured. What that is for each person is different.
    m recently posted..another exhibtion

    • Very well put Mary, and I totally agree. Some people will prefer to keep their creative work as a hobby, so that they can have total freedom – and I think that’s what he’s getting at here.

      However if someone’s day job is completely uninspiring it can make live extremely unpleasant for creative people, as I have found myself in the past!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve been flip flopping back and fourth on whether or not to start writing a manuscript to try to get a publishing deal, or start my own manifesto.

    I like Hugh, and perhaps need to get more familiar with him, because he’s the exact style I need to keep me motivated.

    But yeah, I agree with you. Day jobs suck and I love that I get to do what I do for a living.

    • Why not do both? A short manifesto will help you spread the word, and then you could add more content to a published version like Hugh did.

      Yes he’s definitely got some great ideas and has the experience to back up what he says too.

      I’m always inspired by people who are doing what they love full-time, delighted you are one of them Tommy, and also that you took the time to join in on the conversation here :)