top of page

6 Tips for Creative Success from Successful Creatives

Every Sunday, I receive this nifty free e-mail/blog from Farnum Street. On this particular Sunday, the e-mail was titled,"Negotiating with Yourself." A few paragraphs down, the "Tiny Thought" for the day was this:

"The person who carefully designs their daily routine goes further than the person that negotiates with themselves every day.

The most successful people I know follow a routine to ensure the most important projects get the time they need."

Diner coffee with sugar (source:

The Tiny Thought went on to describe two scenarios of someone who decided to write a book. In one instance, the person set up a routine in which they committed to the writing in a scheduled manner - daily - until the book is done. The second instance - oh, wait. There was no second instance. After I read about that routine, I instantly compared it to what I do: I negotiate with myself to get out of doing the work.

...which is exactly why my personal projects take forever to finish.

The trick, Farnum Street says, to getting work done is creating a schedule in which doing the work becomes non-negotiable.

I can only imagine this is why NaNoWriMo is incredibly successful. Or, why it makes more sense to schedule your time to go the gym, not just tell yourself, "I'll get there at some point today," only to let the day pass until you're too tired to exercise.

However, scheduling's not the only way to get the work done.

Take the literary legend surrounding poet Edith Sitwell, for example. According to rumor, Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin each day before she sat down to write. Supposedly, this served as inspiration, but it stands to reason that it was a reminder to get the work done before she actually died (which wasn't until she was 77 years old).

Maybe you're not into coffins. Totally fair. We opened up two of our all-time-favorite books (Tim Ferriss' Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans) to see what some ultra-successful people had to say about reaching their goals:

Naval Ravikant: "Follow your intellectual curiosity over whatever is 'hot' right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants to go, you'll get paid extremely well."

Christopher Sommer: "The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home. A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will. It is literally that simple. Nothing interferes. Nothing can sway you from your purpose. Once the decision is made, simply refuse to budge. Refuse to compromise."

Ben Stiller: "It takes time... William Goldman, the screenwriter, once wrote, 'nobody knows anything,' in the movie business, and it is true. I know I don't, and I've been doing it a long time. It's always starting from scratch each time. So don't listen to anyone who tells you what kind of movie to write, or how you should look, or what kind of work to do."

David Lynch: "'I like things to be orderly,' Lynch told a reporter in 1990. 'For seven years I ate at Bob's Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee - with lots of sugar. And there's lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It's a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob's.'"

Whether you negotiate yourself out of your work, spend your days horizontally typing from your tricked-out writer's coffin, or scribble bestsellers on napkins, love is all the same. Why not leave us some? We have a heart button, a comments section, and "buy us a coffee" button!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page