In the classic book The 80/20 Principle, author Richard Koch lays out his 10 Golden Rules of Success, applicable to both business and to life in general. I have my own particular take on them, which is a little different than Koch’s, and are more specific to the creative lifestyle.
Michael Hyatt has a saying: leaders read, and readers lead. Even if the only thing you’re leading is your own life, the more you know, the better your quality of life will be. you need to know the rules in order to break them, but you also have to have a deep understanding of why the rules are in place and what they’re mean to do in order to break them effectively. Whatever your niche is, be an expert.
Part of living a creative lifestyle is knowing what the possibilities are. When Katie is teaching art, she starts by teaching kids about the tools and materials and what they do. One of her first kindergarten lessons is just teaching the little guys how to hold a pair of scissors (and in the low-income schools she works at, a surprising number have never even seen scissors before). As a writer, I have to have at least a passing familiarity with grammar. You, the reader, need to be able to understand me. While my grammar isn’t perfect, some of it is intentional; I break the rules to present a more casual, conversational style. At the very least, I can capitalize words and use punctuation.
If you want to be good at something, you need to know what you’re doing. In deciding to be intentional about being a professional blogger, I needed to understand what makes for a successful blog, and how people monetize their blogging. It’s not as simple as writing things and hoping people show up to read them, the way it was when I was blogging as a hobby.
The power of knowledge also creates opportunities and possibilities. I am working on a project right now that isn’t going to make me any money. In fact, it’s going to cost me money. What it’s also going to do is make me an expert. I will come out of it with new marketable skills. I’m looking at writing a book on the subject.
Going back to my definition of creativity — taking what you have and turning it into what you want — you can see where knowledge is essential. You need to understand what you have. You need to know what you want, and what your options are. And you need to know how to get from one end to the other.