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Video: Dealing with Rejection and Criticism (My New Book)

Is it possible to succeed as a creative professional without having to deal with rejection and criticism?

Is it normal to be afraid of being judged by others? If you experience this fear, how can you deal with it?

How can you tell whether a given piece of criticism is valid or not?

What’s the best way to handle criticism?

How can you build resilience and bounce back from multiple rejections and biting criticism?

These are some of the questions I answer in this video interview recorded with Joanna Penn.

(If you’re reading via email, you may need to click through to the original post to watch the video.)

We recorded the video to mark the publication of my first full-length book – Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success.

I wrote the book to help creative people deal with two of the biggest obstacles they face:

  • Rejection – by editors, agents, producers, interviewers and other gatekeepers of opportunity
  • Criticism – by gatekeepers, critics, audiences and anyone else who feels entitled to express an opinion

Jo is a successful novelist and independent publishing expert, so in this video I focus particularly on the challenges faced by writers in relation to rejection and criticism – but most of these are relevant whatever creative field you work in.

(If you are a writer you should definitely check out Jo’s blog, it’s one of my favourites.)

You can read the first five chapters of Resilience in the preview window below. (Again, you may need to click through to the original post.)

And if you want to read the whole book, it’s available on Amazon UK, Amazon US and elsewhere.

Finally, a personal note: my journey as a professional writer started nearly seven years ago on this blog.

Publishing a book feels like a significant milestone, so I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read my writings in various places since then – your feedback and encouragement been incredibly helpful in getting to this point, and have definitely made Resilience a better book.

Two Types of Creative Manager – and the Different Challenges They Face

Later this month I’ll be speaking to design leaders at the HOW Design Live conference in Boston, about getting the best performance out of creative teams. Preparing for my sessions has got me thinking about the different challenges managers face, depending on their own professional background.

In this post I’m going to look at two different types of creative manager, based on their professional specialisms, and the advantages they have and the pitfalls they need to watch out for.

1. The senior creative

A senior designer, copywriter or other creative professional, who has been promoted to team leader or creative director.

Advantages

You understand the creative process and mindset from the inside out. You know what makes creatives tick, and what excellent work looks like. So you are very confident and capable at critiquing the work produced by your team.

Challenges

All outstanding performers who are promoted to a leadership position face the same basic challenge: getting things done through other people is very different to getting them done yourself. I’ve seen this in many different industries, and it’s practically a universal issue. [Read more...]

Video: Time Management for Creative People

Here’s a time management training video I recorded at the Royal College of Art (just before I gave a talk to the students) in which I explain how time management can help you become more creative.

Now, many creative people resist the idea of time management, because they like doing things their own way, and because they (rightly) think creativity isn’t something you can fit into a neat system.

But if you take this attitude too far – especially in our hyper-connected world of digital communications – you can end up feeling stressed because of losing track of important commitments and falling behind on them. You can end up in a state of constant anxiety, wondering whether you have forgotten something critical. Which isn’t exactly conducive to creativity!

In these circumstances, a little time management training can go a long way to reclaiming your piece of mind – giving you the time and mental space to focus on your big creative challenges.

Watch the video to learn:

  • Why time management matters to creative people (even if they don’t like to admit it!)
  • How to manage a portfolio creative career, juggling multiple projects at at time
  • Why I use a post-it note for my daily to-do list
  • How to avoid constantly checking email on your phone (without relying on willpower)
  • How to prioritize between exciting new ideas, deadlines and things that pay the bills
  • Where time management shades into big picture career decisions

The lighting wasn’t ideal, so I’m looking a little more sepulchral than usual, but I hope you find the ideas useful.

Time Management Training for Creative People

My course on Time Management for Creative People – based on my ebook of the same name, downloaded over 100,000 times – is one of my most popular workshops. Click here to learn about booking a workshop to help the people in your organisation become more creative and productive.

Thanks to the team at FuelRCA for inviting me to speak – they are doing a great job of providing CPD tailored to the needs of the arts and design students at the college. And they have a cool blog, click here for their notes on my talk.

How to Write a Blog that Actually Brings in Business

Mark McGuinness speaking at FreshBusinessThinkingLIVE!

Photo by AAB Engage

How do you write a successful blog?

Can blogging really bring in business, and if so, how?

What should you write about to attract potential customers?

These are some of the questions I addressed earlier this week when I spoke about business blogging at Fresh Business Thinking LIVE! (as you can see from this rare aerial photo of me presenting).

As usual when I speak to an audience, I created a written version of the presentation for the audience – and you can download it here.

Read it to learn:

  • Why nobody reads most blogs
  • How a blog can bring you new business – even if your customers don’t read blogs
  • The critical element most business blogs are missing
  • How a blog can establish you as an authority in your industry
  • How to attract new readers – and keep them coming back
  • Deepening the relationship with your audience – from readers to customers
  • Using blogging to complement other forms of social media

Feel free to share the document with anyone who could do with a little help creating a popular and effective business blog.

Free Ebook: 20 Creative Blocks (and How to Break Through Them)

Ebook cover: 20 Creative BlocksCreative blocks are among the most frustrating obstacles encountered by creative people.

Our creativity is so tied up with our sense of fulfilment and identity that we are just not ourselves when we are unable to create.

And if we rely on our creative work to pay the bills, this only adds to the frustration – and the pressure to find a solution.

This is why, over on my Lateral Action blog, I invited my readers to tell me about their creative blocks – and I wrote a series of articles offering solutions to help them. Marelisa Fábrega helped me out by writing an article which is included in the ebook.

I’ve now collected the entire series into an ebook: 20 Creative Blocks (and How to Break Through Them) which you can download for free here.

Creative blocks covered in the ebook include:

  • procrastination
  • creativity v cash
  • lack of time
  • fear of getting it wrong
  • disorganisation
  • kids
  • information overload
  • taboo
  • sex, drugs and rock’n’roll

The ebook is published under a Creative Commons licence, which means you are welcome to copy and share it as long as you keep it intact in its original form, credit me as author and don’t exploit it commercially.

I hope you find it useful in tackling your own creative challenges – get your copy here and please pass it on to anyone who you think may find it helpful.

Enjoy!

10 Ways the Workplace Crushes Creativity (and How to Fix Them)

I’m starting to think the word ‘workplace’ is a contradiction in terms.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me they do their best work in the early mornings and evenings, “because it’s impossible to get any real work done during working hours”.

This is particularly common among creative employees, many of whom bitterly lament being charged with delivering outstanding creative work – and then expected to work in conditions that crush their creativity.

In other words, these are people who really want to work hard and deliver amazing results for their employer. But they are being prevented from doing so by the very people whose business depends on their creativity.

[Read more...]

Sign up for My FREE Course in How to Succeed as a Creative Professional

Detail of two ships and compass from antique map

If you’d like to inject some inspiration and momentum into your creative career, feel free to enrol on my new course: The Creative Pathfinder.

It’s a 25-week programme designed to equip you with the creative and professional skills you need to succeed in your chosen career path – whether you’re an employee, freelancer or creative entrepreneur.

Things you’ll learn include:

  • why following your heart makes sound business sense
  • the four most powerful types of creative thinking
  • how to handle a creative block – when you’re supposed to be the creative pro
  • why opportunities just land in some people’s lap (and how you can be one of them)
  • the most effective ways to make a living from your creativity
  • why having a resume could handicap your career
  • how to turn your website into a magnet for new business and career opportunities
  • the weird and profitable properties of intellectual property
  • how to sell without selling out
  • what to do with all the money you earn
  • why other people seem so weird – and what to do about it
  • how to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds

Every week, you’ll receive a new lesson via e-mail, containing:

  • An article explaining the what, why and how of the topic
  • A practical worksheet for you to download and complete
  • Links to additional resources (articles, books, e-books etc — most of which are free)

And it won’t cost you a penny. Sign-up on the enrolment page and you will receive the entire course of 25 lessons for free.

Since I launched The Creative Pathfinder on Lateral Action last week, over 1,200 students have signed up. It would be great if you could join us on the journey

The Future of Wishful Thinking

Highway in desert, Arizona

Photo by PhillipC

If you’ve seen the latest news from Lateral Action, then you’ll know I’ve just taken over the running of that site from my partners Brian Clark, Tony D. Clark and Sonia Simone. It’s been great working with them over the last two years, and I’m now excited at the prospect of running Lateral Action as a one-man show.

It does however leave me with a very nice problem. I now have two popular websites for creative people, so I’ve been thinking about how to make the best use of both of them, so that they don’t overlap too much and get in each other’s way.

So here’s what I’ve decided. Both sites will continue to focus on creativity and creative business, but with a slightly different emphasis. [Read more...]

Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing

Cartoon: Him - I don't know whether to be a millionaire or an artist. Her - Can't you compromise? Become a millionaire artist or something?

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod

If you’re an artist or creative person of any kind then ‘creating’ is a lot higher on your list of priorities than ‘selling’.

One of the great joys of pursuing your creative passion is the sheer pleasure of writing, painting, making music, acting, taking pictures or whatever you do — without any ulterior motive, and without needing to show any kind of ‘return on investment’. You do it because you love to do it. Amen to that.

On the other hand, even if you don’t want to be a millionaire, I bet you wouldn’t mind a little fame. Not vulgar Hello! Magazine celebrity, but maybe the respect of your fellow artists, and some critical recognition. A few adoring fans probably wouldn’t hurt either.

You don’t have to be rich as well as famous, but all of us have bills to pay, so I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind earning a decent living from your creative work. Getting paid to do what you love has to be one of the greatest gigs on earth.

We are now living at a time of unprecedented opportunity for artists and creative professionals. [Read more...]

The War of Art – Conversations with Steven Pressfield

Steven PressfieldIf you only read one book about creativity, I tell my clients, make it The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

It contains the distilled wisdom of a bestselling novelist and Hollywood screenwriter, who has both the scars and trophies of a life spent wrestling with creative challenges.

This book has been an inspiration to me for years, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to Steven and record an interview with him for Lateral Action. In the course of an hour, we covered a range of topics relating to creativity, work, entrepreneurship and life in general, including:

  • Why is it so hard to pursue our dreams, and get started on the creative challenges that mean so much to us?
  • How can we overcome our inner Resistance to doing the things that matter?
  • What rewards can we expect from persevering in the face of difficulties?
  • What are the creative opportunities — and pitfalls — of social media and digital publishing?

As you’d expect from an accomplished novelist, Steve is a great raconteur; I was spellbound in his company and I think you will be too.

You can listen to the interview with Steven Pressfield over at Lateral Action.

Make sure you check out Steve’s website, StevenPressfield.com, which should be very appealing to Wishful Thinking readers.

Finally, ‘conversations’ plural wasn’t a typo in the title — Steve has very graciously returned the favour by interviewing me about creativity, productivity and entrepreneurship. It’s a slightly surreal experience being interviewed by one of your heroes, but Steve asked me some very stimulating questions that made me think about things from a fresh angle, and I hope you’ll find the interview of interest.

Many thanks to Steve for his generosity and inspiration.