Book review: Leonard’s “Make It Till You Make It”
Special to the Daily
In our modern world of STEM education and practical-track career choices, many people find the prospect of choosing to focus on a creative pursuit both terrifying and daunting. In addition, available time in our modern lives is at a premium, which means that time to do what we love is often seemingly non-existence. But, according to author and self-described creative person, Brendan Leonard, the time to be creative and artistic exists for everyone, if we are just willing to look past the naysayers — and the doubting voices in our own heads.
Leonard’s concise book, “Make It Till You Make it; 40 Myths & Truths About Creating,” functions like a “just do it”-style of motivator. The book is short, barely 100 pages, and reads as a series of simple, yet inspirational incantations, all intended to help the reader to stop procrastinating and to start creating.
Leonard firmly believes that people are embodied with a deeply ingrained need to express themselves artistically, and that artistic expression can come in many ways. Most creative people have a yearning to share their creations with others, no matter the potential for financial return. “Art that you produce without a paycheck is 100 percent inspiration and drive.” And Leonard holds that this is the sign of a true passion — the act of committing to a creative project even when there is no evidence that it will be moneymaking. At the core, if your motivation for a creative endeavor is pure, the money — or lack thereof — does not matter. “Do it because it’s in you and you have to get it out.”
He acknowledges that not everyone can afford to make art their real job, and that’s OK. Creating artistically can be the best entertainment — enriching instead of simply distracting. He reminds the reader that most people find time these days to surf the internet or binge-watch their favorite TV shows, and he suggests shifting some of this time to those creative and joyous pursuits that keep being shunted aside for supposed lack of time.
Being creative, especially if the intent is to put the resulting product in front of others for critique, requires a significant leap of faith for most people. It is a departure from the familiar, but Leonard stresses that it is crucial to allow yourself this leap into the unknown, and the unknown of the modern world includes the internet, which can be an unforgiving place. He suggests ignoring any criticism that is not constructive. This is worth remembering, since most creative people have a yearning to share their creations with others.
Just start … and understand that success for most people comes after many failures. (Think J.K. Rowling). Use any rejection as a motivator, and remember that validation can come at the most unlikely moments from unexpected sources.
Leonard focuses most on the individuality of creativity, emphasizing the reality that it is a vulnerable feeling to place your heart’s deepest outpourings in front of others. Creative ideas need to be nurtured, allowed room to grow; he believes that there is limitless potential if allowed space to thrive. In addition, surrounding yourself with the beautiful art of others can help motivate and inspire you to tell your own story.
He shares the underlying message pulled from actor, Jim Carrey’s commencement remarks, in which Carrey evokes words learned from his father, “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
“Make It Till You Make it” gives any aspiring artist, writer or dreamer a nice kick in the pants. Leonard’s straight forward, condensed suggestions go to the heart of any artist’s angst, dismantling the self-imposed hurdles that get in the way of creativity and the joy that comes along with it.
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