How to be a creative and successful writer. Sort of.

How to be a creative and successful writer. Sort of.

(… or artist. Or musician.)

by Magda Knight

Magda Knight is absolutely convinced that the best way to become a successful writer, artist or musician is to accept you’re a member of the Gang of Struggling Artists and to wear your gang colours with pride. Ooh yes!

Trawling the web will net you a million articles telling you how to be successful as a writer, artist or musician. Hah! These articles claim that to have an indie hit or write an edgy bestseller all you need to do is:

Lies about how to be creative and successful

  • Practise constantly
  • Believe in yourself
  • Promote yourself
  • Join online communities where you can get constructive criticism
  • Never give up or accept rejection

These are really uninspiring methods for success.

All you need to do is remember that you’re in a gang, silly! Every struggling artist is in a gang, the gang of Struggling Artists, and everyone knows that being in a gang makes you stronger, and, of course, every gang has rules:

The truth about how to be creative and successful

  • Wear an aviator jacket. And aviator helmet. And goggles. Wear them at all times. Show your gang colours!
  • Be aware that now you’re in a gang you’re officially dangerrrrrrrous with many ‘r’s in. Don’t moan about how the norms don’t understand you. Just wear your aviator goggles and deal with it.
  • Creative types work alone – except for when they hang out in scary-looking groups. If you find yourself in a scary Struggling Artists group, slouch around looking subversive in your aviator gear and click your fingers like the Sharks and the Jets did in that musical.
  • Ooh, ooh, and sing in harmony.
  • Moving on, be aware that the gang you’ve now joined – the Gang of Struggling Artists – has its own system of hazings and initiations. The standard gang hazing is kinda long-term and usually consists of you being laughed at, ignored and broke, possibly for ever. Don’t moan about it unless you do it in a really cool song or poem, okay? Because everyone else is struggling and broke too and they’ll just think you’re a loser.
  • Develop a thick skin. Develop a heavy petting relationship with alcohol or chocolate or Rimbaud or solitude or your ever-growing collection of 1950s Japanese memorabilia in order to deal with the pain of the hazing period. Your predilection will probably make you a little unusual to non-gang society. You will have to find ways to disguise this, or at least dress it up a little.
  • No-one in the gang is entirely sure how long this hazing period will last. If you wear the aviator jacket, possibly not as long as you’d feared.
  • If you wear the aviator jacket, then you’ll look as cool as the woman in the picture, and if you are a man, you will still look as cool as that.
  • This will definitely make you become famous.
  • You need the people you talk to to be a little bit scared of you, because they’re not struggling artists and you are, so perfect a thousand yard stare.
  • Can’t do a thousand yard stare? Imagine there is an object about three metres behind the person’s eyeballs and look intently at that. Then imagine it moving a metre further away every day…
  • Alternatively, live a difficult life.
  • This next bit is really important, so listen carefully: When you approach your typewriter, keyboard, guitar, easel, camera: ADOPT A BUFFALO STANCE.
  • (Make sure you do not look stupid while you are doing this.)
  • Once you wear your cool artist’s aviator jacket and adopt a buffalo stance, you will be an easy target for people who hate art and all it stands for. They’ll want to bring you down – so avoid sniper bullets when roaming at large.
  • To be on the safe side, live underground.

No-one said it would be easy. If you follow the rules above, I’ve every confidence you will rise to success in any creative field you pursue.