Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter, living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar. Those cartoons eventually led to a popular blog - - and a reputation for pithy insight and humor, in both words and pictures. MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person? Now his first book, Ignore Everyone, expands on his sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice.

In a way I really enjoyed this book - there is a certain freshness in the unapologetic way the author talks about things that are generally common sense but may not be popular subjects to discuss with the creative crowd, such as that there will be hard times, or that relying on being "discovered" is foolish, or even that you may never make it big at all. He calls out those who waste their lives in meaningless bill-pay jobs while waiting for the big break in whatever their creative outlet is, and those who he dubs Watercoolies: the chronic complainers with stagnant careers.
There are anecdotes from MacLeod's life that illustrate the point of every chapter and there are his business card cartoons that either drive that point home, entertain, or give more food for thought. These make the already short book a fast and easy read that avoids being stuffy or preachy or even overly serious while talking about a subject that's very serious for a lot of people.
With all that said by the time I got to the 40th tip I felt that the book was much too long, that some of the tips were essentially the same and could have been combined without doing the book any harm. I even went through the chapter titles trying to remember which stories went with them and found that a few were interchangeable.
This is a decent read, especially if you want a fresh shot of motivation or to switch gears. It is also a great reminder that not every creative endeavor needs to rival the work of Beethoven, Da Vinci, Rowling or Jobs, it simply has to be yours.

1 comment:

  1. I will try to read this once I get done with class this semester. I am sad that I am too busy to read for fun.