4 Lies Creatives Need to Stop Believing

Listening the amount of podcasts I do, reading the amount of books and blogs, and watching the odd Youtube video; I take in a boatload of information from ‘experts’ in the creative industries.

Now, I do this because (1) I enjoy learning (2) I enjoy thinking and (3) I like these people.

BUT. The amount of opinions, delivered as facts, that I find myself agreeing with has decreased over time.

We can't believe everything we hear, read, see. These are the 4 most common lies I've come across that us creatives get told.

That happens: the more we know from our own experience, the more we find ourselves questioning what others tell us. Life.

A podcast featuring one of my favourite experts recently made me stop in my tracks (literally – I had to make a note in my phone on my morning walk) and jot down my own take on his views, god love ‘im.

That got me on a bit of a roll, and I started looking for more expert views that I disagreed with – at least at the time of writing this*.

*Note: All of my opinions are subject to change at short notice – a by-product of being open-minded, to a fault

So here are my 4 lies creatives need to stop believing:

1. You need to put more hours in

It doesn’t take just more hours to make our work a success.

We don’t have to make pop music (or the equivalent in our art form) to be a success.

Especially when, in the next moment we’re told to be ‘different’ or ‘original’ (which I have my own gripes with).

I believe, if you can find your niche, you can be as weird as you want.

Yes, be ‘good’, but ultimately, you can be as good as you want: if you don’t show your work, you won’t make a penny.

I feel strongly about this because I’ve seen fellow creatives who work long and hard on something for it to never see the light of day.

This of course can happen, and we should be selective with what we put out there… but to a point. Most of the time, we just have to ship.

This manifesto from God – I mean, Seth Godin – says it better than I can.

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2. Make Work For Your Dream Client

I agree, we should make work tailored for our dream client, but the idea that this is all it takes to get discovered by that dream client or customer, is flawed.

Unless you’re really into SEO, and you have a killer blog (which on the whole, I do recommend) you won’t just land on their laps.

Also: networking! Yes, being around people is, unfortunately, very beneficial for various reasons.

But 90% of the people I’ve ever done business with (bought from, collaborated with… I’ve even had design clients hire me from Gumtree!) has come – at least initially – from online networking.

May be you do well at using the gift-of-the-gab and can pick up clients in Starbucks from just striking up a conversation… but for us creative introverts in particular, networking from our laptops is (1) preferred and (2) more effective.


3. Validating an idea

Apparently, if you can’t convince some people to buy your thing (which doesn’t exist yet) in 24 hours you don’t have a business.

Don’t misunderstand me – I do understand the importance in validation.

But I have some beef (jerky) with it.

For one: not all successful businesses were validated.

Yes, some were successful in spite of it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to validate a business idea, BUT: the lack of validation shouldn’t put you off on day 1.

Another option is doing something you love regardless of whether you have validation from people around you, or money coming at you from every angle.

We only have one life, and if we’re only doing the things that others want to pay us for… well that’s not the game I want to play.

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4. Just be… Someone else!

I’ve also been listening to the much – recommended book The Magic Of Thinking Big by David Schwarz. lt’s patronising to say the least.

‘Just smile!’

‘Make eye contact!’

‘Quit making excuses!’

It’s not alone in it’s kind.

The problem with these books is that they aren’t written by people who have truly struggled with these things themselves.

It just isn’t that easy to go from years of ingrained self-limiting beliefs, living comfortably (or, often uncomfortably) in our own heads.

To turn that around because some bolshy Yank is barking at you to ‘chin up’ makes me want to be sick in my mouth a bit.

I know how long a process it has been to come this far ‘out of my shell.’

My shell is quite lovely (if we’re going to go with this analogy we might as well hammer it…) on the inside, but it is spiky, and has put others at a distance.

l didn’t (and still haven’t) abandoned it: instead, I’ve trained myself to come out of it, for fleeting moments.

Sometimes, the outside world has beaten me, and I’ve returned to my shell with bruises. Or… missing crab legs?


But most of the excursions have resulted in amazing things. Opportunities, experiences, friends.

What is consistent is that these excursions are ALWAYS terrifying. Always.

That’s how I know it’s time to go outside.

The one thing that keeps me going back for more, is remembering how worthwhile it has been in the past.

This is one thing Schwarz says that I agree with: our memory is like a bank. We stare good and bad memories, and we can pull those out at our will.

In my opinion, we can’t pick and choose what goes in (like Schwarz seems to suggest) but we can certainly practise calling up those good memories.

My practical tip for this post is going to sound woo-woo to some, but this truly has worked for me.

Practical Tip: Make notes of those good memories.

Some people keep a gratitude journal, recording those good memories or anything you can bring yourself to be thankful for, on a daily basis.

Note: DAILY. Getting good at this is the only way I believe I’ve been able to automatically pull up those good memories when I need a reminder.

When I’m feeling most scared, when I’m getting a little too comfy in my shell, I have to call on these memories to remind me WHY facing my fears is worth while.

Advice for Creatives

Finally… Take ALL of what I just said with a pinch of salt. Take everything everyone says with a pinch (or more) of salt.

Well, that felt good to get off my chest!

Are there any lies that you think creatives need to stop believing?