Magic, Creativity, and Making a Dent in the World

As a freelance writer I mostly speak for other people, and I don’t always have time to consider my own creative practice.

That’s why I chose to spend some time reading a book called Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact.

Although it’s a business-orientated book it stands out because it’s aimed squarely at makers and creatives. It’s designed to help you find your purpose, to define your business and consider the things that make it unique, and the book’s goal is to help you make a dent in the world.

The book is a compilation, a collection of stories and interviews, a cacophony of advice and pertinent questions. It pushes you towards self-reflection and it encourages you to deconstruct the way that you work. In the process it fosters an attitude of analysis that hopefully leads to better awareness and positivity about your brand and its impact.

I’ve found some gems in this book; some quotes that made me pause and think.

‘After high school, kids know everything, after their bachelor’s degree, they know something, and after a PhD, they now know that they know nothing.” (Q and A with Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity)

This struck a chord with me as a writer. I’ve made mistakes when I approached an idea, concept, or client brief with an assumption. We’re never finished humans, we’re always learning, and what worked in the past isn’t always likely to work again. We need to stay fresh and our work should always be tailor made to ensure the best fit.

This leads me to something that Julie Zhuo says in her chapter:

‘It’s common for people to approach building new products with technological constraints or preconceived notions of what the end solution should look like. Doing this hampers true innovation.’

There are plenty of forms that writing can take and often I fall into a trap of only thinking in terms of word counts, or blog posts, or articles, or how shareable the end product will be. But that process is innately reductive. It’s important to consider what you want to achieve first before trying to get there.

Julie ends her chapter on what I think is a poetic note. She discusses the unseen, the levels of detail and design that function so well that users or readers aren’t aware they even exist.

‘For all the pieces of our experience that we do see, may they be beautiful to behold and a testament to craft at the highest level. But for all the things we don’t see – may they simply work, as if by magic.’

As writers, designers, and creatives we want to be seen. But that’s not always the best testament to what we do. What we make is for an audience, it’s for the end user and sometimes we should accept the magic, and let people feel awe at what was created, not how it came to be.

To do so we need to be creative at every point in the process. Change is the only constant so embrace it and reconsider your approach. Take a step back and think outside of what you know and push for innovation.

Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact is an excellent resource for makers, creatives, and writers seeking a renewed sense of purpose.

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