Write Your Own Manifesto

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.

The-Holstee-Manifesto-e1321642060353If 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:


By Sandra Belegi from her website http://theartofgreatness.com/the-artists-manifesto/

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.

Power in a Manifesto

Jenna*is one of those artists who surprise me time after time. She has a real grasp on the throat of her inner critic, and she has big plans. That’s always a good combination.

What surprises me is not that Jenna never stumbles, falls, makes mistakes, slides into the morass of crankiness or wraps herself around her axle–she does all of those things. What surprises me is that she doesn’t make up stuff. She keep her life and her place in it in focus.

personal-manifesto-240x300She does the three thing that makes coaching successful:

1. She gets up again, after every slip, trip, and stumble. People who stay down discover that others step over them on their way to their own plans.

2. She doesn’t make excuses for herself. She analyzes her situation and learns from it. That doesn’t mean she won’t do it again, but she will learn something different from it. The more you learn the more tools you have to move ahead to your goal.

3. She starts the fix with herself. “What do I need to do here to make my situation better?” “What do I need to do to move my plan forward?” No waiting for the magic wand. Choosing your own moves allows you to feel in charge of the direction and speed of travel. I’m pretty sure that’s a law of personal physics.

Here is her Personal Manifesto she wrote last week. Right underneath it is her

*   *   *   *   *

I want to be an artist.

I want to live somewhere so beautiful that even in the wind and rain I am drawn to go outside and revel in the sights, sounds and smells and take those into my studio to inspire what I do.


From whipup.net

I want to have an abundance of time to sketch and refine and develop my own ideas so that I produce art that is meaningful to me.

I want to develop a discipline and a regular habit of creating art.

I want the company of a mentor or teacher who can help me improve and encourage my achievement.

I want my art to be good enough to sell in an upmarket gallery, not a market stall.

I will be confident and able to put myself amongst other artists whose work I admire.

I want to feel passion at the colors of a sunset and joy in the colors of pebbles.

I want to continue to explore and play, but I want to find my niche, my craft, my calling.  I want to develop my skills and get really, really good.

And I want to feel so caught up in the moment that the act of creating art is almost a spiritual experience.

I WANT TO BE AN ARTIST: This is my manifesto.

What do I need to get there?

  •  A space
  • Discipline
  • Practice
  • Encouragement
  • Financial support
  • Customers
  • Determination
  • Health
  • Belief
  • Persistence
  • Energy
  • Courage

The Result:

  •  Happy
  • Energized
  • Fulfilled
  • On purpose
  • Worthwhile

*   *   *   *   *

That’s a lot to want. And a lot to demand of oneself–to know what you need and what you have to do is a brave first step in getting it. But it takes courage to declare yourself. And even more courage to declare yourself to yourself.

What would you declare about yourself?

On Wednesday, I’ll give some pointers for writing a personal manifesto–and how to make it happen.

–Quinn McDonald needs to work on getting more sleep and choosing her commitments more carefully. That is what she is declaring.

* Not her real name. Coaching clients are promised anonymity. I have her permission to use her manifesto in this blog.