Back in 2008 I wrote a series here on the Wishful Thinking blog called How to Motivate Creative People, which became a short ebook by the same name.
The series was written to help managers and leaders get the best out of their creative teams, by explaining the mindset and motivations of creative professionals.
One thing I didn’t expect, when I started running training and coaching programmes on the subject, was how much demand there would be for the creative motivation material from the creatives themselves. But talking to them, it made perfect sense:
It’s not easy pursuing a creative path – you often feel yourself the ‘odd one out’ among your friends and family, and there are plenty of obstacles – internal and external – that test your staying power over and over.
There’s also the perennial tension between creativity and money – ‘doing it for love’ versus ‘earning a living’. Psychological research confirms what we know in our hearts: we are at our most creative when we are driven by intrinsic motivation – working for the sheer joy of it, regardless of rewards. Focusing on extrinsic motivation – such as money, fame, or other rewards – can kill your creativity.
If you don’t feel excited by the task in front of you, it’s impossible to do your best work, no matter what rewards it might bring. You may be determined not to sell out, but selling yourself short can be just as damaging. And when it comes to public recognition, comparisonitis and professional jealousy can consume far too much of your creative energy.
Working for love is all well and good, but if you’re a creative professional you can’t ignore the rewards:
You need money to enjoy your life and to fund your projects. You may not need to be famous, but you do need a good reputation within your professional network. And if you’re in a fame-driven industry you need a powerful public profile, whether or not you enjoy the limelight.
There’s a delicate balance at play – get it wrong, and you could seriously damage your creativity and even your career.
All of which led me to develop workshops and coaching for creatives on Motivation for Creative People. Eventually, I realised I couldn’t keep giving people the old ebook and saying “It’s written for managers, but most of it applies to you if you imagine it from your perspective”.
So I’ve spent the past 18 months writing a full-length book called Motivation for Creative People. The subtitle gets to the heart of the challenge we face as creatives trying to build a successful career around our creative passions:
How to stay creative while gaining money, fame, and reputation
The book runs to just under 300 pages, with stories and examples from my own journey, plus famous creators including Stanley Kubrick, Dante, The Smiths, Shakespeare and Japanese kabuki actors. And it’s packed with practical solutions to the challenges of staying motivated and creative while achieving your professional ambitions, drawn from the 20 years I’ve spent coaching creative professionals.
I recently published three chapters from the book over on my Lateral Action blog – click the links below to read them:
Get Motivation for Creative People for just $2.99
As I first published these ideas here on Wishful Thinking, I’d like to give you the chance to pick up the book for the proverbial ‘price of a coffee’.
There’s also a paperback edition, beautifully designed and illustrated by the wonderful Irene Hoffman. If you buy the paperback from Amazon US during the launch week, you’ll get the Kindle edition included for free.
(If, like me, you live outside the US, I’m afraid Amazon doesn’t let me gift you the ebook, but I’m confident you’ll find the paperback good value on its own.)
A special thank you to all the Wishful Thinking readers who left comments and gave me feedback on the original series. And to all of you, if you do read Motivation for Creative People I hope you find it a helpful guide on your creative journey.