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Motivation for Creative People – now a full length book (just $2.99 this week)

Cover of Motivation for Creative PeopleBack 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:

Is Inspiration a Thing of the Past?

The Art of Emotional Pricing

Kabuki: Lessons from 400 Years of Creative Tradition

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’.

So for the rest of this week, you can get the ebook edition of Motivation for Creative People for just $2.99 (or equivalent) at Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and Smashwords.

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.

Free Audio Seminar: 5 Essential Money Skills for Creative People

If you’re a creative freelancer or small business owner, one of the biggest challenges you face is staying on top of the financial side of things – while at the same time carving out enough time and mental space to do your best creative work.

So I’ve teamed up with Sarah Thelwall to record a 75-minute audio seminar to help you tackle both of these challenges. It’s called 5 Essential Money Skills for Creative People and it won’t cost you a penny.

Sarah is an expert on financial management for creative businesses, and the founder of MyCake, an online toolkit to help creative entrepreneurs manage their money.

The audio seminar follows on from my new ebook, 5 Big Mistakes Creative People Make with Money (just click on that link to download it) which tells the story of Jay and Oscar, two creative people with the world at their feet, whose careers take very different directions because of their different attitudes to the ‘money question’.

While the ebook describes the problems, the audio seminar gives you the solutions – Sarah and I go through each ‘money mistake’ in turn and show you what to do instead to build a thriving and sustainable creative business.

Topics we cover include:

  • How to earn a good living from your creativity without selling out
  • What Mozart thought about money
  • How keeping regular accounts can change your life (seriously)
  • Why your reasons for charging low fees are almost certainly bad ones
  • What to do about crap clients
  • Why you shouldn’t try to sell to everyone
  • How to keep your expenses in check

This is what one listener had to say about it:

“Days later, your free audio that I listened to keeps re-appearing in various ways. For one: integrity in my finances monthly. My sense of my self worth has increased. Ideas for marketing are arriving daily as I am still while working. I noticed a BIG time issue of selling my work vs ‘the tax man’ and filling out year end forms. (Old mindset: Why sell? Just keep creating. NEW mindset: you are so gifted: SHARE your gift.)

“You two are awesome! Thank you.”

Jan Sessions

You can get a free copy of the audio seminar (with full transcript) on this page.

Free Ebook: Freedom, Money, Time – and the Key to Creative Success

Ebook cover: Freedom, Money, Time - and the Key to Creative Success

Illustration by Joan Vincent Canto, licensed from istockphoto

The most popular things I’ve ever written here on Wishful Thinking have been my free ebooks. So I’ve written you another one. 🙂

It’s called Freedom, Money, Time – and the Key to Creative Success. Here’s the basic problem it addresses:

A creative person needs three things to be happy:

  1. Freedom – to do what you want, when you want and how you want it. Not just in
    holidays and spare time – but also doing meaningful work, in your own way.
  2. Money – to maintain your independence and fund your creative projects. Of course you want a nice place to live, but you’re not so worried about a bigger car than the guy next door. You’d rather spend money on experiences than status symbols.
  3. Time – to spend as you please, exploring the world and allowing your mind to wander in search of new ideas.

Usually, you’re lucky if you get two out of the three. But if one of them is missing, it compromises the other two.

Without money, you don’t have much freedom, because you have to spend your time chasing cash.

Without time off, money doesn’t buy you a lot of freedom.

And if you’re doing something you hate for a living, it doesn’t matter how big your salary is, or how much holiday you get. You still feel trapped.

Surely there must be a more creative solution?

The ebook describes my unconventional career journey, as a poet and creative coach, and the lessons I’ve learned about finding the right combination of freedom, money and time.

It’s full of practical advice you can apply to your own situation, if you want to earn a living from your creative talent, or if you’re a freelancer or small business owner and want to make your business less stressful and more profitable.

Click the link to download your copy of Freedom, Money, Time – and the Key to Creative Success.

As usual, you’re welcome to download the ebook for free, with no need to give your email address. And you’re welcome to share it with anyone who you think would like it.

If the ideas in the ebook touch a chord for you, you may like to know that The Creative Entrepreneur Roadmap (formerly known as the Lateral Action Entrepreneur Roadmap) will soon open its doors to a new group of students, over at my Lateral Action site. If you want to be first in line when the course opens (and to read the second free ebook I’ve written) you can hop on the advance notice list.

Artists and Internet Marketing: a Conversation with Mark McGuinness and John T. Unger

Drawing containing the words: The market for something to believe in is infinite

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod

My recent article Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing turned out to be one of the most popular things I’ve ever written at Wishful Thinking. So if it touched a chord with you then you might like to download the hour-long podcast interview I recorded with John T. Unger, in which I expanded on the opportunities and pitfalls of internet marketing for creative people.

I’ve never met John in person, but due to the wonders of modern communications I’m pleased to count him among my friends. Read my interview with John T. Unger over at Lateral Action to learn about the amazing business he’s built himself as an artist, sculptor and ‘impossibility mediation specialist’ leveraging the power of the Internet. His podcast blog Art Heroes Radio is essential listening for 21st century artists, and I was delighted to join the panel of experts he’s interviewed about the business of art and the out of business.

In the course of the interview, we cover topics such as:

  • why artists are resistant to marketing in general and marketing themselves in particular
  • why we are scared of selling out or just plain scared
  • the pain of trying to balance time spent on marketing with time in the studio
  • why it’s no good just posting your artwork, writings, videos etc. and hoping this will magically lead to fame and fortune
  • practical tips on things like like using a professional blog platform, getting people to subscribe and writing headlines that get your work noticed

The audio file is free to download and share, so do forward the link to any of your friends who you think would benefit from it.

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.

The Lateral Action Creative Entrepreneur Course Is Now Live

Cartoon: I'm not delusional! I'm an entrepreneur!

Image by Hugh MacLeod

UPDATE: We’ve now sold out. Thank you and welcome to all our charter members!

If you’d like to be first to hear when we open up again, you can sign up on this page to join the e-mail notification list.

We’ve now started taking enrolments for the Lateral Action Creative Entrepreneur Course.

The course is designed for:

  • Artists and creative freelancers
  • People looking to set up a home-based business
  • Bloggers looking to build a business around their blog

(If that doesn’t include you, you may want to skip this post — there are plenty more articles about creativity and related topics coming up on Wishful Thinking, plus the free e-book I’m working on …)

If you’d like to be one of our charter members, with lifetime access to the course (including all future updates) at a 50% discount, you can head over to Lateral Action and sign up.

The course gives you a detailed roadmap for succeeding as a creative entrepreneur — a small, creative business consisting of one person or a very small team. It will show you how to research and develop products that people actually want to buy, market yourself on the internet, and build a business without spending a fortune on advertising or employees. [Read more…]

Free Report: How to Become a Creative Entrepreneur

Lateral Action Free Report

EDIT: The report is offline for now. If you’d like to be first to read my new report on creative entrepreneurship (and first to know when the Lateral Action Entrepreneur Roadmap is open for students again), you can sign up for the advance notification list.

If you’re remotely interested in making a living from your creativity, I suggest you download a copy of the free report The Lateral Action Guide to Becoming a Creative Entrepreneur.

Written by Brian Clark, one of my partners at Lateral Action, it tells the story of Brian’s unconventional route to success, via Law, screenwriting, real estate (as they call it in the States) and blogging, to his current position as the founder of a multimillion-dollar online business enterprise.

What makes his story even more remarkable is the fact that he does it all with no venture capital funding, no employees, no office and very little overhead.

If you’re wondering how that’s possible, have a read through the report, where Brian explains his unconventional approach to entrepreneurship.

Crucially, he doesn’t just tell you what worked for him — he lays out the 5 Critical Components of Creative Entrepreneurship, that you can use to build your own creative enterprise:

  • Create (Don’t Compete)
  • Lead (Don’t Manage)
  • Communicate (Don’t be Shy)
  • Automate (Don’t Duplicate)
  • Accelerate (Don’t Stand Still)

Regular readers of Lateral Action will recognise these principles from the latest of our animated cartoon videos, Marla Mentors Jack:

Still from cartoon video

Free E-book – ‘Defiant! Practical Tips to Thrive in Tough Times’

Cover of Defiant e-book

If you’re feeling daunted by the challenges of the recession – or if you could simply do with some inspirational and practical advice, then I suggest you download Defiant: Practical Tips to Thrive in Tough Times.

It’s a new e-book from Rajesh Setty, successful entrepreneur, respected author, columnist for Lateral Action – and a thoroughly nice guy who I’m pleased to call my friend.

A few months ago Raj asked me to contribute a practical tip or two for people under pressure due to the recession. I was happy to do so, and am delighted to find myself a co-contributor alongside stellar talents such as Seth Godin, Liz Strauss and Phil Gerbyshak.

As well as the ‘guest tips’ Raj has packed the e-book full of advice based on his experience of surviving and thriving through several recessions.

The e-book is completely FREE – you don’t even need to give your e-mail address. So once you’ve grabbed your copy and please help to help others by forwarding it to your friends and contacts.

Thanks Raj!

The Unlimited Freelancer — a Guide to the Business of Freelancing

The Unlimited Freelancer

This is a review of the new e-book The Unlimited Freelancer by Mason Hipp and James Chartrand.

If you’re a freelancer feeling overwhelmed by your workload (or even worse, your lack of workload), this e-book offers solid advice to help you reduce your working hours and stress levels, and increase your income and job satisfaction.

I first came across James Chartrand’s writing via his excellent articles on Copyblogger, and was pleased to discover more stylish and practical advice on his Men with Pens site. He’s known as one of the foremost voices on the Internet on the subject of sales copywriting, and has built a successful business on the back of his expertise. I’ve also been getting to know him via Twitter and e-mail and have found him a thoroughly decent chap. So when he asked if I’d be interested in reviewing his new e-book and acting as an affiliate partner, I said I’d love to see it.

Mason Hipp was a new name to me, but a little investigation revealed he’s one of the editors of the popular blog Freelancer Folder, which looks a great resource.

Having now read the book, I’d say it’s an excellent introduction to essential business skills for the 21st-century freelancer. If you’re in the same position as many other freelancers — being ‘really good at what you do’ but struggling to make a living without working seven days a week — it’s well worth the investment of time (an afternoon’s reading) and money ($29).

James and Mason haven’t written the e-book explicitly for creative professionals, but I believe the advice they offer is particularly relevant to freelancers working in creative or artistic fields. Here’s why. [Read more…]