My main issue with Newport’s idea of ‘the craftsman’s mindset’ is that it assumes that people have work that they are passionate about doing. It assumes that we all have a great idea, and that it just needs work, work, work in order to be a great product. For myself, this isn’t true. I can’t think of one creative idea that I’m passionate about at the moment. Yes, if I find one, the craftsman’s mindset may work for me as a creator, but until then, the theory has no standing in my professional life.
My second issue with Newman’s theory is that it assumes that all creative people are creators. I think it is entirely possible to be a creative person who simply likes to work with, or under, or for, other people. I find that helping someone else finish a passion project of theirs can be just as rewarding as working on my own. I get to be given direction, I don’t have the pressure of being the creator, but I get to see great ideas come to fruition, and this probably comes under Newman’s idea of the passion mindset.
On another, more positive note, I loved that this reading mentioned Steve Martin’s brilliant memoir, Born Standing Up. I read Born Standing Up in my first semester of uni, and it really did help me realise that I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless I applier myself completely to getting better. I’d recommend the book to any creative type, any fan of Steve Martin’s, or pretty much any person. It’s safe to say I love it, and it’s one of my favourite books.
Cal Newport, 2012, ‘The Clarity of the Craftsman’ in So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work, NY Business Plus, ch.4.