Key Three of "Ignore Everybody and 39 Others Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Key Three – Put the hours in.
“Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina.”  ~ Hugh MacLeod

Oh, Hugh, we already know that.  It’s so simple.  If I want to  succeed, I’ve just got to do “it”!   So, then why is it so hard to maintain that day-to-day-to-day discipline?  Is that why you chose doodling on the back of business cards sitting at the bar?   Hey, come to think of it – isn’t that an image that comes to mind of writers – artists in Bohemia?  Sitting in front of their favorite brew in the café or bistro?

Ok, back to the main point.  Hugh states that he is not concerned about anyone ripping off his idea of his doodling on business cards format, unless they can draw more of them, and better than him.   That what gives his work the edge is that he’s spent years drawing them – thousands of them – representing tens of thousands of man-hours.

I love his confidence about his work – that it is based on a commitment to the creative work itself over the long haul, not hype around a one-hit-wonder – well lit and airbrushed.    Just as you don’t know an artist by one painting, but rather from viewing an exhibit representing her entire body of work, it is also true that you don’t know a songwriter/artist/band based on hearing one song.

A body of work is accumulated over time.   And time means money.   I mean, you've got to eat.  So who’s going to pay the bills while you take the time to create this body of work?  Um…“you are.”   Hugh says, “Don’t quit your day job!”  Create the discipline of dedicating that one or two hours before and/or after the day gig to do your creative work. He says, that way, you won’t be in a frenzy trying to make your “art” generate revenue, because it takes the pressure off the creative process, having to chose between "artistic" or "commercial."  He says his method has allowed him to pace himself over the long haul.  Stamina is critical to making it happen.

I’ve done it every which way - music-only full-time, work part-time; music part-time, work full-time; music – what music?   I agree that the distribution of energy is critical to success.  Once I took on a full-time job to support myself while doing music on the side, I found the more successful I became in the day job, the more success I wanted.   As driven as I am to be productive and add value, I find it a challenge to hold back my best till the end of the day for myself and music.   At that point I just want to flop on the sofa with the remote.   It is difficult to be honest

I am now back to being fully focused on music, and I must admit that I am still wrestling with the balance.   Because all the elements of making a livelihood via music require wearing many hats.  Doing all of it, i.e. creating, recording, packaging, promoting, securing performances, tech, and many other details can be overwhelming.   It remains a challenge to keep the actual act of creating and rehearsing in balance with the rest of the functions that accompany being a professional musical artist.

I agree with Hugh, that success depends on a high degree of doing “it” over an extended period of time. I am many years and miles down the road and, happily, I have somehow been able to produce a body of work that still satisfies and inspires me to keep on creating.  Now, back to the concern I still have as a professional musician - how do I balance it all?  How do I generate revenue while maintaining artistic and personal health - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically; and nurturing my personal relationships?   Musicians and artists of all disciplines have special vocational challenges.   It's my hope to discover some ideas to leverage in this book.

I'd love to know your thoughts!

Leave a comment

    Add comment