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20 Rules for Creative Superstars

By Peter Lloyd

Toddlers Rule. Adults who maintain their toddler spirit rule as well. I’m sure you can name a dozen arrogant, greedy, megalomaniacs on the world stage today. They make life miserable for everyone but themselves. But bring creativity onto the scene and everything changes.

Creative Superstars, whether they treat their fans and minions kindly or cruelly, immerse themselves completely in their art. They maintain a perpetual toddler-like thirst for discovery and inspiration. They find satisfaction it little else but breaking new ground and gratifying their need to express their delight or dissatisfaction loudly, clearly, and immediately.

photoBlogger April McCormick posted The Toddler Code of Conduct: 20 Rules Toddlers Live By in the Parents section of the Huffington Post. How could I not adapt them to the rules Creative Superstars must follow? Each of the 20 correspond roughly to McCormick’s.
  1. Wake up the world from their complacent satisfaction with the status quo.
  2. Sabotage the authoritarian fetish with the importance of punctuality.
  3. Don’t wait for the order. Create what you want to create when you feel like creating it.
  4. Don’t let anyone lead you down a path your intuition tells you is the wrong way to go.
  5. Never accept editing or agree to any other kind of alteration to your work without a knock-down-dragged-out fight.
  6. Furiously reject any input, direction, or ground rules that don’t sit well with you.
  7. Terrorize your proteges.
  8. Never let management, your sponsors, or your patrons come to a point where they think they have satisfied your needs.
  9. Don’t let anyone run your schedule. Work when you want to work, leave when you want to leave.
  10. Keep in mind that your work is more important than anyone else’s. Make everyone make room for you.
  11. Consider and work with every possible option before settling down to work on the one you choose.
  12. Do not ever clean up after yourself wherever you work.
  13. Vehemently protest any time anyone tries to remove you or distract you from your work.
  14. Always learn by doing, especially before you know what you’re doing.
  15. When you accomplish a new skill, use it all the time, whether its use is appropriate or not.
  16. Use everything the way you feel like using it, no matter whom it belongs to,
  17. Never wait for people to understand your work or explain it to them.
    They’ll love you more when they eventually get it.
  18. Rules were meant to be broken. Break them for the sake of breaking them.
  19. Never deliver on the first request.
  20. Be careful and stingy with your cooperation, appreciation, and charming behavior. The less you charm, the more charming you become.

Of course, you should use these 20 rules only if your work literally floors your audience and those nearest you in talent. So keep in mind what Bob Dylan advised himself, “I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”

Peter Lloyd is co-author with Marco Marsan of Think Naked: Childlike Brilliance in the Rough Adult World.

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