I picked up this little book on a whim earlier this week. It came from the business section at work (that’s 650.1 for you cataloging nerds out there), but it’s one of those titles that gives catalogers gray hair because it could be shelved in multiple places.
The book offers 40 short essays that describe what MacLeod refers to as the keys to creativity. Each rule is direct and thought-provoking. Unlike some books on creativity that I’ve read, each rule is illustrated with concrete, everyday examples of how the key works both from an artist’s point of view and from the perspective of someone working in the business world.
The author is a blogger and cartoonist who got his start doodling on the backs of business cards. The most interesting thing about him (to me, anyway) is that he also has a day job, and he encourages people to keep their day job and pursue their art on the side. One of the biggest truths I wish I had learned when I was a kid is that most writers continue to have a day job even after they are published. I had this idea in my head until recently that real writers didn’t do anything else for a living but write. This is crap, obviously. Plenty of people do both, especially when starting out. MacLeod argues that it’s actually good for you to keep your day job. He says that suddenly quitting your day job in a “big ole’ creative drama queen moment” (p 30) sets you up to shoot for huge success right away. Since most people only become successful over time, this unrealistic expectation of overnight success causes people to quit trying before they have a chance to get anywhere.
He does drop the f-bomb in his cartoons, so if that bugs you, be warned. Other than that, this book is a quick read that I’d recommend to anyone who does creative work in their day job or on the side.