Friend: Why Wise Creators Manage Their Expectations 😔

Make Stuff #49

SENT ON April 1, 2022


en years ago, a dear friend published the first French biography of a 20th-century American composer. He had already published books about classical music, contributed to magazines, and translated many foreign novels under a couple of pen names. But this biography was his magnum opus. He had spent years traveling, interviewing, and researching to develop an intimate and unique perspective on the composer’s life.

When the book came out, he immediately asked for my opinion and was eager to discuss his argument with me. I was not a fast reader then, and my graduate coursework meant I couldn’t read a 560-page book in a week (or even two). As the weeks passed, he was nagging me with increased intensity. I was not the only one: he was bitterly bugging folks who hadn’t finished his book yet, damaging relationships.

This story has stuck with me. It taught me that as creators, we need to be prepared for our work not to receive an enthusiastic response, even if we think it’s excellent. In other words, we need to learn how to manage our expectations, with kindness and understanding. The first piece I’m sharing will get your reflection started.

Thanks for your time, friend. I will be back on April 15. Until then, be well and keep making stuff!


Manage your Expectations 😎

Managing expectations is a practice in equanimity. In this piece, Sandra Beckwith helps writers be realistic about what to expect when putting their work out in the (social media) world. Remember: A large social following is not a guarantee of attention or success.


Music and Mental Health 🪕

If you don’t enjoy “stupid walks,” I have some good news for you: A review published last week shows that music-making and listening “promote well-being and health-related quality of life (HRQOL).” It is comparable to the benefits people see in exercise but to a lesser extent. So exercise AND music, then?


The Power of TK 💪

TK is an editing mark that means “to come.” Writers use it to leave an intentional blank in a piece of writing. This week I learned that it’s TK and not TC because editorial marks are often misspelled on purpose to avoid confusion with final copy. In this short piece, Godin explains what TK means for the creative process.


Your Primary Job Is In the Studio 🎨

It’s so tempting.
It feels so productive.
This post is here to remind us that writing blog posts, getting followers on social, or even teaching, is not an artist’s primary job. The article goes on to talk about the studio as a space, and inspiration
As always: Replace the studio with a music room, writing room, etc.


Copyright Vulnerabilities in NFTs 👩🏻‍⚖️

Copyright in the NFT space is complex. There are a lot of misinformed—and confused—people like the DAO who wanted to make an animated series of Jodorowsky’s Dune because they got their hand on a copy of the story bible. This piece by the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3, affiliated with Cornell University) is a wonderful primer on the topic.

(Source: Erika Hall, @mulegirl on Twitter).


John Mayer’s songwriting trick 🗣

Another songwriting process item. Do you remember the last issue when I shared Jeff Tweedy’s “mumble tracks?” Well, this TikTok of a John Mayer interview is related. Here Mayer shows us that sometimes we have to create our momentum. And that means stepping into the void with confidence and mindlessness (what a great cocktail!). My favorite quote in this ITW: “If you’re not ouija-boarding im-me-diat-te-ly, you’re wasting time.”

(Photo credit: Victoria Welch/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)


How Mindfulness Meditation Changes the Neurobiology of Fear🧘🏽‍♂️

Last week I talked to my coach, and we laughed about how many fears (the ones creative people experience) we could name on top of our heads—a bunch! In this video, and under 5 minutes, Tara Brach describes and discusses how mindfulness meditation helps us break out of fear.

(Source: My friend Sonia Harris on Twitter; check out her swearing pattern clothing store)


“When creativity has become your habit; when you’ve learned to manage time, resources, expectations, and the demands of others; when you understand the value and place of validation, continuity, and purity of purpose, then you’re on the way to an artist’s ultimate goal; the achievement of mastery.”

—Twyla Tharp


OneLook Thesaurus 📖

This site feels like magic. Especially when English is not your first language. Do you ever ask: “how do you call a person who collects butterflies again?” Now you can type it, and this (reverse and smart) thesaurus will suggest some answers. (Source: on TikTok)

🙃 ʇsᴉɹǝʇdopᴉdǝl ɐ sᴉ sɥʇoɯ puɐ sǝᴉlɟɹǝʇʇnq ɟo ʎpnʇs puɐ uoᴉʇɔǝlloɔ ǝɥʇ uᴉ sǝzᴉlɐᴉɔǝds oɥʍ ʇsᴉƃoloɯoʇuǝ u∀


A Game to Help You Master the Pen 🖋

I have decent Photoshop skills, but I SUCK at using the pen tool (a reason why I rarely open Illustrator). I was so happy to discover this in-browser game that aims at making you better at drawing shapes using the pen tool. Graphic design is not your passion? Give it a try anyway! It’s fun!

(Source: @barnardco on TikTok)

Thomas Deneuville

Thomas is a creativity coach and mindfulness meditation teacher. Originally from France, he lives in Upstate, NY, with his family and a couple of bagpipes.