The Ten Creator Commandments (Aka, The Ten Creative_____ Commandments): Plus, How To Prep For A Master Class

I was invited to give a “master class” on applied creativity to an eclectic group of professionals, founders, and marketing people who… let’s be honest – probably already know way more than I do about creating things. 

In the great tradition of “what might I know that they do not,” I started writing down potential ideas. A few notes at first. Then an increasingly panicked list of disparate thoughts and unhinged doorways to potential rabbit holes. 

To get my head straight, I abandoned the prep and turned on the TV. 

Sweet procrastination. 

Enter wife, stage right, scene couch: “Remember how last year on my birthday we re-watched The Ten Commandments? We should watch something a little more romantic this year.* But we should rewatch that soon too, just on another day.”

That’s how my wife got my prep on track. 

(relevant background point) The Ten Commandments is an odd ‘50s movie to have a minor obsession with. It was a commonality my wife and I discovered several years ago in the pre-run-up to to Easter. I probably said something to her like, “This might sound weird, but normally around this time of year, if I’m flipping channels and see The Ten Commandments, I will stop whatever I’m doing to watch it. If you see me doing it, I’m OK, it’s just a thing I have.” To which she responded, “No way – me too.” 

Sometimes the value of doing something else (which yes, CAN LOOK LIKE PROCRASTINATION) is it allows the universe to re-orient you to your task. I needed this break. I needed her comment. Because…

The next morning I woke up thinking about the movie. And then thinking about Biggie. Because you can’t think about The Ten Commandments and not think about “The Ten Crack Commandments,” can you? (I can’t.) 

I put the song on my headphones while I started going through my morning rituals.

I’ve been in this game for years, it made man animal / it’s rules to this s***, I wrote me a manual…

And that started me thinking, “What might The Ten Creator Commandments look like?” 

What do you need to know to help your people survive in a desert? Where after you flee oppression you have to keep your tribe from dissolving into unfocused chaos? This stuff ain’t easy! 

And what do you need to know to sling product on dangerous street corners? All while making a profit? Without dying, but with all the risk you can stomach? 

Most of all, what do you need to stitch these two lists – the Charlton Heston Ten Commandments and the Biggie Smalls “Ten Crack Commandments” – together?!

(This really is how all of my presentations/work/formed-ideas come together, just for the record) 

What I was confident nobody had ever heard before was my framing of these ideas. Because they’re from me – based on my experiences, my reflections, and (bonus!) this is what having a Personal Archive is all about. I had source notes to consult now – not just bottomless ADHD/curiosity rabbit holes.

I wrote down this list:

The 10 Creator Commandments 

1. Never be bored

2. Never be boring

3. Do YOUR work

4. Do your work in THEIR world

5. Format the message for the medium

6. Roll snowballs, COMPOUND

7. See status seesaws everywhere

8. Learn to spot, avoid, and create drama triangles

9. Connect with your work and your audience through the cognitive triangle

10. Spin your creator flywheel

Then I added a little more color, tagging ideas in from the search bar on CultishCreative.com so I’d have stories and reference points. I also realized these could be applied towards ANY specific profession, especially non-creatively minded ones, so I added the “aka” below:

The 10 Creator Commandments (aka The 10 Creative _____ Commandments)

1. Never be bored (find the tension + resolution in everything, see https://cultishcreative.com/tension-resolution-and-how-to-have-a-complete-thought/)

2. Never be boring (create tension + resolution in everything you do, see https://cultishcreative.com/virgin-ablohs-3-rule/)

3. Do YOUR work (you doing you is all that matters, see my Personal Archive stuff here https://cultishcreative.com/why-you-need-a-personal-archive-and-how-to-start-one/)

4. Do your work in THEIR world (make it interesting to “them” – “observational focal length” or first/second/third person metaphors – see Twyla Tharp and the Jerome Robbins story here https://cultishcreative.com/what-a-puppeteer-turned-choreographer-can-teach-us-about-creative-expression/)

5. Format the message for the medium (every platform, communication style, etc. has rules – create within those constraints, see https://cultishcreative.com/the-medium-is-the-metaphor-postman-not-mcluhan/)

6. Roll snowballs (in finance terms, “calendar of events, cash flows which are just the surpluses and deficits of money in and money out, both determine what’s on the balance sheet in terms of what you own and what you owe in accumulated form. In all other terms, you can reverse engineer from accumulated to baby steps, OR work through from do the thing and see what accumulates, OR work from the middle to play each side. Jobs, IP, Social – applies to all! see https://cultishcreative.com/the-3-cs-of-planning/)

7. See status seesaws everywhere (every interaction increases or decreases the status of the person/entity/thing across from you. The best and worst conversations, the best and worst strategies, all have this at their core. See https://cultishcreative.com/applying-keith-johnstones-status-seesaw/ )

8. Learn to spot, avoid, and create drama triangles (drama is a tool, use it, don’t be used by it, see https://cultishcreative.com/the-drama-triangle-what-it-is-and-how-to-use-it/ )

9. Connect through the cognitive triangle (“think, feel, do” with whatever triggers you. The key is, your reflection = your perspective, and that’s the most valuable thing you can add! Need to write a specific post on this one apparently. This is close to the spirit of its application https://cultishcreative.com/i-sing-the-body-electric-relaxation/)

10. Spin your creator flywheel (yes, the muse makes us curious, which makes us creative, which leads to a creative habit. BUT also, the habit sends us searching for the muse again! Right back to te top of our list. See https://cultishcreative.com/the-creator-flywheel/)

NOW I had a TALK. Even more important, since it was a master class, now I was ready to lead a discussion about each of these sub-points. It was fun, it made me realize I need to be doing more of this, and wow did it focus up some ideas I’ve been trying to fit together for a minute. 

And now I have a question for YOU:

Do you OR an organization, cohort, or ____ you belong to need an event speaker, small group discussion topic, or any group-level kick to get the creative conversations flowing? 

I’m your guy – get in touch here. I had so much fun doing this. And the feedback was, let’s just say, I may have blushed a little. 

Extra special thanks to Grace at Kizuna NYC for hosting me, her incredible community of talented individuals, and all I learned by being urged to do this process in public (hello 5 P’s!).

*we’ll watch “Guys and Dolls” for 18 millionth time. Because we agree it’s a perfect movie/story/piece of art. That’s a post for another day too. Happy birthday Valle.