Kick a creative person today

Hugging creative people is great. But sometimes, love hurts.

I’ll admit it. I’m feeling a little lame for posting something so namby-pamby last week about hugging a creative person.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think we all need validation, encouragement, and love. And you should still hug your favorite creative person from time to time. But I’m going to balance that sentiment out this week by telling you to kick them also.

The myth of the creative person

For one thing, the idea that any one person is more creative than any other is a myth. Creativity isn’t a talent – it’s a mindset. Any person of any disposition and IQ can get into that mindset, and regularly does.

Don’t believe me? Take the time to watch John Cleese explain creativity.

So listen, ‘creatives,’ don’t feel so special. It only matters if you actually take the time to think through problems and make stuff. You know, work.

Creativity isn’t magic (nor magick), so don’t treat it as such.

Mike Monteiro’s new book, Design is a Job, challenges the notion of the magical creative within his first 5 pages. He explains how these lucky people live in a beautiful myth where they are not weighed down by boring work, but instead feel their way to success by divine inspiration.

… you are a child of magic (or magick, if you’re a goth). Knowledge of these base matters would only defile your creative process. Your designs come from inside you.

Mike Monteiro from Design is a Job

To paraphrase Monteiro, this is bullocks. This prevalent myth is destructive and makes successful projects more difficult than required. Why, Mike?

A designer requires honest feedback and real criticism, and that’s not going to happen in a realm where collegues or clients are worried about crushing the spirit of a magical being. The sparkly fog of affirmation gets in the way.

Mike Monteiro from Design is a Job

Well said. True for designers, true for any creative pursuit.

Making stuff is work, so get to it.

Feel like giving out hugs to struggling artists now? Maybe they really need a swift kick and some honest feedback to get ’em back up and back to work.

So, here’s a challenge for you today. We know that our creative friends are passionate about what they create. That’s why they pour their heart into it, and that’s why the results often feel special or magical. So hold them accountable to their own passion. Ask what they are working on, and demand to see some results. Give honest feedback. Ask them why they are doing what they are doing, and don’t accept a pat answer.

Above all, crack the whip and demand sweat.

Some simple ground rules

  1. I’m guessing this works best if it’s someone you know personally. And even then, tread carefully. Remember this is tough love – the goal is still enouragement in the end.
  2. Lower your gaurd and take a kick or two back. We only give these kicks because we realize we need them just as much as the next guy.
  3. Consider following it up with last week’s hug, for good measure. Or, once I heard it’s good to start with a hug, then kick, then hug again.
  4. Timing is important. Don’t kick a dude while he’s down, that’s just cruel.

Okay, that’s it. Go kick a creative person.