The Prolific Creator is Patient
The internet is littered with life hacks, fast paths, and fool-proof bullshit formulas for success. The prolific creator knows deep down that the greatest work of his life and the great American novel will take more than 140 characters and more than a day.
The Prolific Creators Doesn’t Wait
To be inspired.
Until they’re in the mood.
Until the perfect time or all their ducks are in a row.
For permission from a publisher to write a book, or a label to record.
All the reasons you’re waiting are excuses that keep you from being prolific. As Steven Pressfield wrote in The Artist’s Journey, “Put your ass where your heart wants to be.”
I didn’t wait for my agent to tell me whether or not she thought this book was a good idea. I just kept writing it. I already had a plan for what I’d do if my publisher didn’t want it. That’s why you’re reading it.
For 5 years, I waited for permission. I waited to be picked by a publisher. If I’d kept waiting I might still be waiting. No reason for you to make the same mistake.
A Prolific Creator Creates More Than He Consumes
There’s no shortage of information coming at us every day. The prolific creator is deliberate about his consumption. He doesn’t click on every link that rolls through his newsfeed. He doesn’t subscribe to a million newsletters. He creates more than he consumes.
The Prolific Creator is Rebellious
He zigs when other people zag. He starts trends instead of following them. He’s willing to let his work scream with disdain for authority. He challenges the status quo and then he redefines it.
The prolific creator is an instigator and a misfit amongst misfits. The prolific creator knows that some people will think he’s batshit crazy. It’s a price he’s willing to pay if it means he’ll make something unmistakable.
The Prolific Creator Doesn’t Focus on Byproducts
Book deals, downloads, leading roles, IPOs, and fuck you money are all byproducts. The prolific creator is focused on the work that leads to the byproducts. He’s focused on the process instead of the prize.
The Prolific Creator is Detached from the Outcomes of His Art
Once you become prolific, you’ll become less attached to outcomes. It’s hard to be attached to the outcomes of your art when you’re making so much of it. When you know you’ll be back tomorrow, you won’t spend much time lamenting how it turned out yesterday.
The Prolific Creator Doesn’t Rest on His Laurels
After a self-published WSJ Best-Seller and 2 books with a publisher, I still wake up and do the same thing every day: write 1000 words. I still self-publish books that a publisher won’t buy. Those things are what got me here in the first place.
The prolific creator never stops doing what got him to where he’s at today. He maintains the working habits he developed when he was a struggling nobody, lingering in obscurity. When he does this, he maintains his momentum, makes visible progress, and lets his working habits fuel his motivation.
The Prolific Creator Expects Nothing
A.R. Rahman famously said, “When you expect nothing everything comes to you.” He’s the most iconic composer in India. He’s sold more albums than Britney Spears and Madonna combined. If I ever made a Bollywood movie, it would be just for the opportunity to work with him.
You can’t control if any of what you expect. But people waste insane amounts of energy imprisoned by their expectations. The prolific creator expects nothing because expectations waste the energy he could put into making more art.
The Prolific Creator Creates for The Trash Can
Erik Wahl coined the term “creating for the trash can.” You have the freedom to toss your work in the trash if you don’t like it. I toss plenty. My creative work is like my creative life. It’s filled with half baked ideas, false-starts, messy middles, dips and dead ends.
You’re not painting with blood. There’s always more paint in the can, ink in the pen, and film in your camera. Toss what you don’t like in the trash and start over. The well of creativity is infinite.
This is part of a series about how to become a more prolific creator. You can download the entire book for free here.