Super REVIEW: Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Ignore Everybody reviewIgnore Everybody Book Review

Well the title certainly got my attention, and it’s not bad advice—plus it was endorsed by Seth Godin—so I gave in and bought it.

Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity is written by Hugh Macleod, a no-nonsense New Yorker whose snarky cartoons drawn on the backs of business cards have gotten quite a bit of attention these days. His “keys to creativity” are snippets of wisdom distilled from his experience as a diligent, pragmatic creative person.

I’ve lately kept a distance from books and blogs that gush how-to advice, but Ignore Everybody is an exception. It’s inspiring yet sobering. Macleod tempers the unsettled, beautiful artist within with a keen awareness of life’s practicalities.

For example, Key #8, “Keep your day job,” explains the need for creative people to balance their sexy, artistic work with work that actually pays the bills. This isn’t always easy, right? We tend attach ourselves to the romance of the raging successful artist. But, says Macleod:

This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.

Another great hit of advice is Key #24—“Worrying about ‘Commercial vs. Artistic’ is a complete waste of time.” I can’t tell you have much I’ve worried about this exact issue (feel free to detect the frustration in some of my earlier posts). But Macleod instantly squashes the argument:

…a lot of people like to dwell on it because it keeps then from ever having to journey into the unknown…It allows you to have strong emotions and opinions without any real risk to yourself.

Rather brilliant, wouldn’t you say? Being creative means you have to forge it alone–at least for awhile. This advice is reassuring when you’ve got nobody but yourself to rely on or give recognition.

My absolute favorite Key is #29 (such a lovely prime number): “Power is never given. Power is taken.” This one really jumped out at me because I never thought this way. I thought power is something you have to earn (for a seeming eternity) until someone or something gives it to you. Not so. Macleod neatly sums it up:

Not needing anything from another person in order to be the best in the world.

If I were to extract the essence of MacLeod message–find the thread that connects each Key– I’d say this: be true to yourself, keep creativity in context and prepare to suffer.

Yes, I said prepare to suffer. If you’re not prepared to suffer, then you better get used to working doubles at the local Sizzler as a jaded middle-aged alcoholic burnout.

And yes, his business-card cartoons are scattered throughout the book. They are simple, wry and often hilarious, with a refreshing dose of potty mouth.

Like what you hear? Then please buy the book through my Amazon affiliate link here or at the image at top–I’m not ashamed to admit that I still haven’t made one dollar from this blog.

But, most of all—support Macleod. He earned it.


The book’s namesake, “Ignore Everybody,” packs a lot of meaning, even more than what Macleod theorizes. I plan to write a separate post on this, so please subscribe to Wordful so you don’t miss it.