What’s a personal manifesto? A way for you to get back to what you are meant to do, to find your North Star, to re-align your compass. A personal manifesto is a call to action, a step forward, a no-excuses definition of your clearest, best self. After printing Jenna’s manifesto, I got some requests for instructions.
If you are a word person, a personal manifesto is the writing equivalent of a vision board or a video statement. Use what resonates as true for you.
You can write and then design your own manifesto. The Holstee Manifesto is a very popular one that made the rounds last year. That’s it over on the upper left.
Long before they were popular, Frank Lloyd Wright wrote a manifesto for his apprentices. Mr. Wright (never call him Frank in Scottsdale) had a winter studio and school in Scottsdale, and although he himself had an enormous ego (and many, many mistresses, including the wife of a client), his manifesto was simple and clear. There are a lot of big, muscular ideas in this short list:
1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation
How do you write a manifesto? There are as many ways as there are people, but here are some suggestions to get you going:
1. Write down some statements about life that you know are true from experience. Here’s one of mine: “Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at and not doing it. The other half is knowing what you are smart at and doing lots of that. Don’t confuse the two.”
2. Write down a list of things you believe (or know are true). Write down another list of things you don’t believe (or know are not true. At least for you.)
3. What do you want your life/world/work/studio/art to be? That question is hard to answer, so you may have to ask it another way: I want to live in a world where. . . . or By the time I’m [fill in our age 10 or 20 years from now] I want to have [made /read/ created/ achieved / learned. . .
4. Pick a topic for your manifesto. It can be as focused as “how I want to manage my disappointment” to “I want to be an artist.” Distill the items in steps 1 to 3 and make them into simple, powerful statements. Don’t cut them short just to be short, but make them powerful.
5. Use speedy verbs and muscular nouns. No traveling to mamby-pamby land [ya jackwagon]. No “I’ll try” or “I’ll do my best.” Be strong about what you believe about yourself. Step up and step out.
6. Write it down. Use a pen and paper, it makes it stronger and requires more effort. What you write by hand travels there from your heart.
7. Post it where you can see it every day. Read it out loud if you feel scared or drifting.
Reading it isn’t enough. You may have to make a list of what you need to be that person, conquer that fear, take that risk. A list of what you need will give you another action step. Manifestos are not about calling yourself to action.We go where we look. Look at what you want every day and move toward it a little more.
What is one thing you would include in a manifesto?
–Quinn McDonald has written a total of 8,000 words today, for others and for herself. She is not as tired as she thought she might be.