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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.

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…]

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.

Workshops for Creative People – Now Booking for July

Time Management for Creative People

Following the success of my Creative Momentum workshops last summer, I’m pleased to announce two more public workshops in central London this July:

Time Management for Creative People — 7 July

Manage the mundane – create the extraordinary. Essential skills to maximise your creativity and minimise your stress levels at work!

From people who attended last year:

“Clear, intelligent and genuinely useful material.”

Thomas Heath, thomasheath.tv

“I liked the way the ideas for managing time were uncomplicated and realistic enough to start fitting them into your everyday life.”
Candida Bradley, candipops.com

“The content was clear and can be easily applied.”
Jacob Sam-La Rose, jacobsamlarose.com

Full details + booking here: Time Management Training

How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself) — 14 July

Motivate yourself to overcome obstacles and create amazing work – and a sustainable career.

From people who came last year:

“This was nothing like I expected and much better than I expected. Made me look at how I work and why I work, in a completely different way. Mark has a very laid back style which is great.”
Sarah Turner, turnerink.co.uk

“The group size was just right. The distinctions worked well, and gave me a different way of thinking about motivation. The material is interesting and well presented. An enjoyable and worth-while workshop!”
David Stevens, musicforspecialneeds.com

“I really liked the way you related the issues of the talk with stories which you almost acted out! It was interesting relating problems which you experience yourself to other people who have succeeded – it made it seem more achievable! I really enjoyed it, a really comfortable atmosphere was created and the group seemed to get on well. Thank you!”
Candida Bradley, candipops.com

“I liked your presentation style. I think it was the first time in a long while when I actually was captured by a presentation and the content and listened to what you had to say.”
Kim Robertson

Details and booking here: Motivation Training

The workshops are designed for creative people of all descriptions — artists, creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who takes their creativity seriously.

As before, I’ll be tailoring the workshops to the specific needs of each group – when you book your place, I’ll send you some questions about what you want to get out of it, which will help me target the issues that are most important to you.

The workshops are designed to work equally well as standalone sessions, or to complement each other if you take both. There’s also a special offer if you book both workshops together.

Places will be strictly limited to 25 per workshop and allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Last year they sold out well in advance, so early booking is a good idea if you want to be sure of your place.

Here’s the booking page (with secure payment via credit card or Paypal):

We had a lot of fun last year and I’m looking forward to more of the same this time round. I hope you can join us!

PS — I may be running some more workshops later in the summer — you can join my mailing list if you want to be first to know when they are announced.

How to Motivate People During a Recession

Sunshine bursting through clouds

Photo by JeffBelmonte

A few weeks into 2009, and we don’t need to look far for doom and gloom, hysterical headlines and grim-faced news readers. The main debate now seems to be how long, deep and bad the recession will be.

But what if it’s your job to inspire and motivate people to do their best? How can you stop all this negativity corroding your team’s spirit and damaging their performance?

If you’re a manager or leader, you’re probably as concerned as anyone about the economic situation. But your success – maybe even your company’s survival – depends on your ability to get top-class performance out of your team. Which isn’t going to happen if they are so stressed and depressed by circumstances that they are not 100% focused on their work.

Even in some of the better case scenarios, where the organisation’s future is reasonably secure, you may well not have much to offer them in terms of pay rises, bonuses and other incentives.

And you’re only human, so there may well be days when you struggle to motivate yourself, let alone people around you.

In this article, I’m going to offer some practical tips to help you motivate your team members in spite of – or even because of – the present challenges you face together. And I encourage you to use these same principles to maintain your own enthusiasm and commitment. [Read more…]

Free E-book – How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself)

Iggy Pop singing
Photo by alexsey.const

“If you’re a creative director like me, it’s a must-read.”
Full review.
Tim Siedell, Fusebox

“The kind of reading that should be required for new supervisors as well as those in the creative professions.”
Steve Roesler, Roesler Consulting Group

Running motivation training and coaching sessions for hundreds of clients has taught me a lot about how to get outstanding performance out of people at work.

I’ve condensed what I’ve learned into an ebook that you are welcome to download and share: How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself).

If you are a leader, manager, director or coach…

This motivation training e-book will help you:

  • Understand how motivation affects creativity
  • Get better work out of creative workers – without a bottomless budget
  • Avoid (inadvertently) crushing people’s motivation
  • Use rewards effectively
  • Understand and influence many different types of personality
  • Facilitate collaboration

If you are a creative person (however you define that)…

The motivation training ebook will help you:

  • Understand your creative process
  • Develop your talent
  • Find more satisfaction in your work
  • Influence other people
  • Develop your influencing skills

Topics covered include:

  • What makes creative people tick
  • Why motivation is crucial to creativity
  • Why you can’t motivate anybody – but what you can do instead
  • What Iggy Pop can teach you about management
  • Why offering rewards can kill creativity
  • How to write 47 novels before breakfast
  • Why some people seem so weird – and how to deal with them
  • The positive side of peer pressure

The e-book is published under a Creative Commons licence, which means you’re welcome to download and share it on a non-commercial basis, provided you keep it in its original format and credit me as the author. (NB the images are governed by separate licenses — please see the copyright notice on page 2.)

If you enjoy the e-book, please feel free to pass it on to friends and colleagues who may find it of interest.

Would you like your team to be more motivated and creative?

And if you’d like some help motivating your team to produce stellar work, ask me about running my popular motivation training workshop How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself) for your organisation.

Motivating Creative People – Getting the Balance Right

Now that we’ve reviewed four basic types of motivation, it’s time to put them together and have a look at the big picture. Have a look at the diagram above, which is composed of two axes: intrinsic-extrinsic; personal-interpersonal.

Motivation is usually complex, so that any given task or project involves several different types of motivation. You may love your work for its own sake (intrinsic), but that doesn’t mean you will be put out if your monthly pay cheque doesn’t arrive (extrinsic). You may have a strong natural curiosity or need for self expression (personal), but that doesn’t mean the presence of encouragement and all competition from colleagues won’t prompt you to redouble your efforts (interpersonal). And you’ve probably already noticed that different types of motivation can shade into one another. For example, recognition has appeared twice, under extrinsic and interpersonal motivations, since it’s a form of reward that involves the opinion of other people. [Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – Peer Pressures

Photo by My Buffalo

The basic thing in my mind was that for all our success The Beatles were always a great little band. Nothing more, nothing less.
Paul McCartney

Creativity happens between people not, just between the ears. Whatever drives us as individuals, something magical and unpredictable happens when talented creative people get together. They spark off each other — and sparks come from friction.

Few people can have known the highs and lows of creative collaboration so intimately as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They achieved fame as a unit, sporting identical suits and haircuts, and performing, in McCartney’s words, as “a great little band”. For a few years, their friendship and the euphoria of success were enough to paper over individual differences. But as time and fame took their toll, tensions mounted and tempers flared. The inevitable breakup was evidently a relief in some respects, is the individual members were free to pursue their own interests — but the consensus is that they never reach the same heights in their solo careers as they did in the years when they were known as The Beatles.

[Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – Personal Values

Enneagram diagram

Image by Sandra Renshaw

Manager: “I just don’t understand it. I’ve tried everything, but he still doesn’t get it. He just carries on doing the opposite of what he’s supposed to do.”

Me: “Well I’ve heard a lot about why you want him to do it, and a lot of reasons why he ‘should’ do it. But the question I haven’t heard the answer to is ‘What’s in it for him?'”

(Long silence.)

Manager: “That’s a very good question.”

I’m in no danger of breaking confidentiality by telling you this conversation – I’ve had it hundreds of times, with managers at all levels, in many different companies. And I hope it doesn’t suggest that I’m a particularly brilliant coach – it is a good question, but I didn’t invent it. And the main reason it occurs to me when it doesn’t occur to a manager is that he or she is immersed in the situation, while I’m in the position of a privileged outsider. To the manager, it’s obvious why a particular outcome is important – for the company, for the team, even for the individual concerned. He or she can’t understand why the team member in question doesn’t take it as seriously.

Sometimes the situation can be resolved by explaining exactly what, why and how things should be done differently. But at other times the employee carries on regardless, apparently oblivious to the manager’s threats and entreaties. Words like ‘difficult’, ‘lazy’ and ‘unmotivated’ start to be bandied about.

It’s time to look at things differently.

[Read more…]

Motivating Creative People – Rewards for Work

Photo by Steepways for Obama!

“I went into the business for money and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.”
Charlie Chaplin, Academy Award acceptance speech, 1972

Show me a professional artist or creative with no ambition and I’ll show you a liar. No matter how much we may love our art for its own sake, very few of us will turn our noses up at the rewards on offer, such as money, fame, status and privilege. Such rewards are known as extrinsic motivations, because they are external to the work itself. In many creative fields, the extrinsic rewards on offer are so spectacular that competition is cutthroat and hordes of young (and not so young) hopefuls are prepared to invest huge amounts of time, effort and energy for a shot at the big time.

‘But hang on a minute — didn’t you say in the last post that intrinsic motivation is critical for creative success? And that most creative professionals are more motivated by the joy of work than by money?’ [Read more…]