How to Protect Your Creative Fire in a Sea of Mediocrity

How to Protect Your Creative Fire in a Sea of Mediocrity

Reader Comments (33)

  1. Hi Hugh,

    Wonderful post and I totally agree with.

    Also relevant to the importance of testing….i.e. just because something is working does not mean it cannot “work” better.



  2. You’re right! It’s essential to want to learn more, no matter how big you are.
    The thing in writing is that you’re becoming boring and hateful. Time to put everything down and take a short breath of air.

  3. I absolutely agree with this post! Why ride the ways of the “usual” way when you can find something where you can stand out and possibly find better ways of doing things?

    I like it that you got inspiration from musicians you like. Thanks for the good read!

  4. I enjoy a good Zappa reference. To me, it doesn’t matter how many times you listen to an album of his – it always blows you away. (And more often than not, gets me in a fit of laughter.) The guy is genius.

  5. Hugh,

    Spot on post! And thanks for shining a light on two amazing artists who thrived off the beaten path. The ones who blazed their own trail, where all the great cliches collide.

    Brian Eno is an amazing musician but his production work is what really turned me onto him. His work on U2’s The Joshua Tree is and Talking Heads Remain In Light was hugely inspirational. And those are just the tip of the iceberg

    Frank Zappa is one of the most under appreciated musicians / composers in American history. So many people focused on the weirdness part, which is fine but you only have to see how many incredible musicians passed through his ranks to know just how brilliant he was. Not to mention his intelligence. Saw him speak at my college during the PMRC hearings. Amazing!

    FZ is still my hero.

  6. Love this. Every once in a while Copyblogger throws in an article like this, and it keeps me here.

  7. Great piece, and I must say…I visited Hugh’s site and it is GREAT! Good content, some funny, some serious and some just kick’s your butt. =)

  8. Ha! Ha! We Clevelanders do not wear spandex anymore. Okay, maybe some people who are still stuck in the 1980s do, but the majority of us don’t.

    I agree that allowing yourself to evolve is a good thing. Not only does re-inventing yourself work for artists like Madonna, it can work for you too. Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing as is pushing the envelope.

    “It’s OK to be weird, it’s OK to be smart, and it’s OK to shun com­mer­cia­lity.” I liked that you mentioned that it’s okay to be smart. Smarties rule! 🙂

  9. The principle of re-inventing yourself and not staying in a certain degree of success is very important. Many reach a certain point and they just stay there (e.g. Apple), killing innovation and simply re-iterating and fixing the bugs. It’s good to always research and see what’s happening, what’s the new thing, how you can move on, what do people need and like, and then go ahead and re-invent yourself, constantly evolving!

  10. I have always had a different way of living life, hopefully sometime in the next 40 years someone will see what I am writing and say, “Wow, I could do that even better.”

  11. This was a great reminder to always be improving. Once we have something figured out, we need to NOT stay stuck there but to keep on keeping on. Loved the analogies with musicians too. They must have been very unusual for what they “didn’t” do.

  12. You seem to have found a delightfully simple way to encourage your readers to maintain their self-confidence and continue to stay their course – no matter where it veers off the beaten path. Well done.

  13. Totally agree with your choices. Your taste in music is flawless. Zappa is one of my eternal heroes who never quit and always pushed, musically and conceptually. Even when dealing with short-sighted people who he had to deal with while opening up new territories of artistic expression.

    Running into this in the area of branding, I opted to write and design “Why is it so hard to create a brand anybody gives a sh*t about” (on Slideshare) in the same spirit of, “Hey! Wake up! Lighten up! Do something!” It struck a chord since it got 60,000 views in a couple of weeks.

    Thanks Hugh for this post. Shine on.

  14. This is exactly what I needed, Hugh. I realized in my own writing I knew what formula would do well, but I didn’t enjoy writing those sort of articles all the time. Although I’ve found those articles easily do much better than the more free ones, I still strike a balance and only use the formula when it fits well into the theme. It is much more freeing to write when the creative flow that made me start in the first place.

  15. Great post Hugh. I shoulda realized it long ago, but didn’t and got into a traditional career-type thing. I decided to give it all up and “I’m goin’ to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon”. R.I.P. Frank.

  16. Thank you for this post. So many times I wonder to myself if I am doing things right. Especially since I am at that beginning of possibility. The one where greatness seems to be just out of fingertip reach. That’s the point where doubts creep in and you wonder if you should be like everyone else.

  17. Great post and perspective. Honestly, I can’t imagine how boring it would be to do the same thing year after year. There’s so much to do, so much evolving, both out there (in the world) and in here (in our hearts and minds). I went to a bloggers conference this past fall. And I realized I was about 20 years past the average age of the attendees. At first, that made me feel old. But then someone said to me, “Good for you!” And i realized, yes…it was good for me to be stretching ahead. I guess I could be considered weird as a 50+ in a sea of 30+.

  18. This totally caught my eye with my two favorite people… I love Brian Eno’s brain…. Frank’s, too… I’m going to go do something weird, now…. only, without the roxy makeup.

  19. I love Brian Eno. He is a creative mastermind. First heard of him when I was trying to figure out who wrote the Windows 95 bootup theme way back when.

  20. Nice, Hugh! Thanks for the reminder that it’s ok to be smart, weird, and follow our own paths. People need to hear that sometimes. I need to hear it a lot. 😉

  21. Guess what? It’s okay to be ordinary, too. Being “weird,” whatever you really mean by that, does not guarantee that you’re creative. Beware of confusing weirdness with creativity.

  22. As a musician and songwriter I grow tired of the over-produced, formulated music with a complete lack of creativity that floods our commercial market. I believe in trying new things and experimenting. I feel the same about blogging.

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