On Manifestos: Create Something

Whatever it is that’s going on with me I am feeling braver by the minute. There’s power in writing and claiming words and beliefs. This started out as an homage to being a girl and figuring out how to be a woman and that goal is still there. I mentioned it on Twitter and promised my friend Erin that I would compile a list of them for her and share some of the best ones I’ve read.

First, I want to share the family manifesto that belongs to my friend Isabel. When she wrote about it a while back I loved it so I was glad she linked to it again. Isabel lives in a musical family and so her claim to “listen to music” is actually more than meets the eye unless you know how important music is for her. It’s simple, but it says everything.

Some of us would probably prefer to just buy one that’s ready-made, so I found a fairly inexpensive version of one on Etsy that you can get for $32, but there is something amazingly powerful in writing your own and having it printed for display in your home.

do what you love

What I’m learning about manifestos is that they are pure poetry, written with strong action verbs and succinct declarative statements that sound like we’re telling ourselves to just do something already. The ones I am writing have storytelling attached to them because I don’t think we learn to tell ourselves to do something or make a change in our lives without some background to it. There’s a reason I have a voice now and it’s because of the shame people kept trying to pile on me. Sometimes, you just have an awakening that blossoms from the experienes you live. That’s where I’m at right now and that’s how bravery is born.

There are some fairly popular manifestos out there so I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Holstee Manifesto. In fact, you might be familar with this already since it was featured in a Washington Post article.

Next up is a handwritten manifesto in a journal that sounds very much like a conversation and it’s over at Right Brain Terrain. When I’m alone I talk to myself quite a bit. I’m not sure when I started doing that, but it was when I was practicing having a difficult discussion with someone and I wanted to make sure I said the things I wanted to say. How can you do that if you don’t hear it in your own voice? The Right Brain Terrain manifesto was written by Frederic Terral and he includes quotes from Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln.

A few of the manifestos I’ve been reading have lead me to a website called Start Something You Love which collaborates with Work is Not a Job (see below). If you need a jumpstart, buy their e-book for $37.50. If you don’t want to spend that, just start and get inspired by what you read here.

In 1998, Canadian designer Bruce Mao of Bruce Mao Design wrote an incomplete manifesto, bullet-pointing 43 items that he wanted to share with design professionals. I like the following four, which help me shape my work/life:

Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: Make up something else (but not words).

Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet — or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer-graphic-simulated environment.

Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

Using verbs like scat, take, and stand help format the manifesto. But, so does clean, except he uses the negating word, don’t, in front of it. That brings me to The Lazy Manifesto, a Zen-like piece of work that adopts things like the “Do Less” philosophy and begins with the words of Lao Tzu.

“Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place.”

The “Do Less” route means taking things off your plate and making room for others. You can’t do more if you don’t cut something out and it’s good advice to take so you can do the things you want. Doing less means taking out the negative, soul-sucking, unproductive blather in your brain and replace it with things you want. The Lazy Manifesto includes things like “Do less buying” and “Do less managing” and “Do less judging and expecting”. Maybe I should have written a Do Less manifesto first or maybe I’ve already done it in my mind with taking out the things that aren’t good for me. This manifesto was written by Leo Babauta.

Work is Not a Job was founded by two women, Sophie Pester and Catharina Bruns. Their manifesto includes things like “The world is your playground, not your prison” and “You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you, go work with it” and, my favorite, “What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while”. I especially like how they’re supporting female students to start businesses. Sophie is the creator of Hello Handmade and together she and Catharina have now launched the Supercraft lab. You won’t be sorry you stumbled upon all this gooey greatness (which is sometimes written in German).

Since I’m a bit partial to all the creative looking manifestos, I am partial to periodically checking in with Typography Mania which produces newsletters that lead me to be surrounded by creativity. This is a favorite: Typography Mania #32. It’s really about design and inspiration, so if you find something to add to your manifesto while sniffing around here, then all the better.

I also liked this one from 16hours, a curated magazine that wrote up a simple lifestyle manifesto here: 16hours. It’s the end I like best:

We want to inspire you to do more, to be more, to feel good lost and explore always

Finally, there’s always Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata poem to get you going. Note, again, the use of strong verbs and even the negative words and phrases like “avoid” and “do not”. You could make a whole list of those yourself with those words to get you going. I promised myself that I would join things or sign up for workshops that helped me live in a creative bubble. To help me on that journey I signed up to take a 4-week journaling course from Karen Walrond called Create.2013 that I know will keep the fire lit.

Go. Do. Create. Manifest.

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