So I was excited to read this book. Again, I was dazzled by Kadavy's way with words, but the impact on me was much deeper this time, as the subject of this book is very dear to me: how to achieve consistent creative output.
I believe some of us are, by temperament, born to create. If we don't labor to transfer the contents of our inner-world into the outer-world, we will silently die a spiritual death. Then eventually, we will die a physical death, with our art still trapped inside of us.
This fact may be obvious to many, but when you focus on the urgency of creating, it typically makes us creatives more neurotic. We obsess over unimportant details, and get trapped in self-defeating thought loops "This isn't good enough." "I'll never make it". "I'll never finish this."
Personally, these thought loops used to leave me with a sense of helplessness. It even triggered a deep depression in me last year. At times, I was convinced that I could never escape the maelstrom of my own mind.
But then I discovered Kadavy's work on the subject, and I slowly started to make my way to calmer waters. In Heart to Start, Kadavy distinguishes several concepts I never considered before. Just being able to label the thoughts getting in the way of my creating helped immensely. Coupled with his very actionable strategies for training the mind out of these thoughts, these ideas buoyed my mind and helped me get my business ideas out there in the world.
Now, I create and ship WAY more products, content, and ideas than I have in any other period of my life. All because I finally found the heart to start.
If you're currently struggling to get started on your next business or creative venture, then you may find your heart in these pages...
Basically a faultless book. Precisely what the book promises in the cover and opening preface, it performs for the reader.
Kadavy delivers a precise message on how to create what your heart's desires, dividing it into three seconds on the laws of creating, the motivation, and the practical techniques. Superb, simple, direct, and sincere.
I particularly like the opening which tells you why you might wish to stop reading the book. That won me over. Charming.
EDIT: Reflecting on this book five days after reading it, I am impressed by the simplicity of Kadavy's thinking. He's not trying to invent anything new here, he's just trying to HELP.
Here are some notes I made from the book:
- Ideas are FUEL not a judgement - Look for the Pump Idea, the idea that makes your heart beat faster.
I love how he talks about the Voice in such a non-mystical way, very practical.
I appreciate for the first time really that when a great idea doesn't work out there is real sadness and disappointment. I never noticed that. Thankyou.
- Appreciating overcomes fear and doubt. Magical advice! - The work of art reveals itself THROUGH itself. Kadavy speaks beautifully about the mystery of creativity here.
My next action is: Set a timer and work on a creative project that inspires me for ten minutes.
This is a good book. Although it is relatively small, it is packed with excellent, highly usable advice on how to get out of your own way - so that you can create art (in whatever form - writing, painting, etc). I especially like that this book is research-based and makes sense. The only issue with this book, like any self-help book, is actually implementing the ideas in your own life and work. I recommend this book. Please mark if you find my review helpful. Thank you so much!
If the common advice of "just do it" were enough to get started, nobody would ever feel stuck. "The Heart To Start" is a concise, thought-provoking read with minimal repetition, that shines a light on the reasons why it's hard to get the momentum to begin something, and in doing so, arms you with a new perspective that can help remove obstacles and clear the path towards doing the creative work you were meant to do.
It's a common practice these days for authors with successful blogs and podcasts to distill them into book form and republish their content. I'm happy to say that "The Heart To Start" is not one of these books. David Kadavy certainly draws from what he's learned from dozens of interviews he's done for his popular "Love Your Work" podcast as well as his own life experience struggling to overcome creative blocks, but the thesis he constructs here is an entirely new one within the library of his work.
"The Heart To Start" deconstructs the reasons, both emotional and practical, that starting something new can be difficult. These explanations are helpfully paired with ways to reframe your thinking to reduce the weight of these blocks. Some of these factors are in your head and tied to ego and emotions: What if everyone thinks my work is awful? Others are simply fallacies and biases that humans tend to get stuck in: This project is going to take so much of my time so there's no way I can start it! Kadavy picks these counterproductive feelings and biases off one by one, and leaves you with the sense that maybe that thing you thought was a scary monster under your bed was actually just a harmless shadow.
While some of the advice offered is tactical, the book doesn't focus explicitly on productivity techniques, and I think this is actually to the reader's benefit. There are thousands of books full of hacks and techniques to make you more productive, but not nearly as many that take the time to help you examine why you feel the way you do, and to shine a light on the distortions and fallacies that hold you back and keep you from getting started. The act of exposing them might not kill them entirely, but it's much easier to power through them when you realize they're sabotaging your efforts.
I initially received a copy of this book to review, and by the time I got to the third page went to Amazon and bought it. This is a short, straightforward plan for getting started on a project and conquering the demons that will try to stop you in your tracks. Kadavy talks about how our mental programming creates barriers to moving forward, then gives concrete examples and easy to follow steps to deal with them.
Kadavy points out that everyone is unique and needs to explore and build on this uniqueness in a world where so much is now mass produced. He says that the only way to do this is to find the best expression of who you are and move forward to create from that. He sees ego as born out of fear, and therefore something that holds you back. It works to protect you from potential harm. He says that your ego, in its protectiveness, hates your art. I could easily summarize the entire book; I'd recommend that you discover the rest of it for yourself. You'll find excellent ideas on getting and staying motivated, finding the vacuum that creates a demand for your ideas, and developing a routine that will keep you going. I'll be getting a hard copy so that I can find all the paragraphs I've underlined more easily. I'll also be buying this for my coaching clients
First of all, if you are looking for a motivational book full of psychological revelations and business jargon, this is not it . This book is light, but not in the sense of being simplistic. The rules the author lays out are simple, but following them and implementing your plan are not so easy. He makes this very clear in describing his own experiences. The secret to success, he argues, is not so much knowing what you want to do, but taking the risks to make it happen and following through. He shows how effective it is to break down your task into smaller, more easily accomplished tasks so as not to lose momentum and get discouraged.
Though the book is written in a peppy, conversational style, it is concise and well focused on the major points. You can tell that he followed his own advice and made an outline before writing it.
I must admit that I also enjoyed the book for certain coincidences in experience that helped me relate to his journey. I lived for several years in his hometown, Omaha, and I have lived and traveled to some of the Latin American countries he has visited. He resides in Colombia, a country I visited as journalist back in the days when drug barons and leftist guerrillas had made it very dangerous. It is much better today and it is a beautiful country. The fact that he can do what he does from Colombia as easily as he could from Los Angeles or Omaha is testament to the incredible resource called the internet, something that has opened up lots of opportunities to every creative and determined person in the free world. My only very light criticism of the book is that it might have explored this a little more. I would like to have learned more about his experiences in CoLombia, for example, and I think he could have added a little more detail about others who have succeeded. It would have been interesting to read more about his blog, how he developed it, got people like Steven Case to be guests and what he did to make it more appealing. Perhaps all that is found in another of his books.
David's style is awesome! Some of his recommendations might seem obvious, but without the right way of thinking about them when approaching them- its easy to shrug them off. There are reasons you are not getting anything done and all of the reasons David presented resonated with me. Last night I jotted a few sentences down for a blog post idea ("create in little pockets of time" instead of FB or whatever) and when I went home I wrote a full blown post! I told my perfectionism to take a long walk off a short pier. Also, David talked about following your curiosity. What a breath of fresh air. And he gives great examples of how this was so crucial to some really successful people. I"m always reading "focus in tightly on one specific niche" kind of thing. I shouldnt keep trying to force myself to do that anymore, it will happen on its own. Thanks for the wonderful words David! Keep up the writing.
I enjoyed this thoughtful book. I got it in paperback and Kindle and would recommend having both. It's helpful on Kindle to be able to add notes, highlights, and to have the ability to quickly jump around and search by keyword. It's nice to revisit certain sections that way. And to scroll through all your notes and highlights in one place, so you can scan through them again as a refresher. But it's also nice to have the paperback. It's just a different reading experience, one that suits non-fiction and writing advice in particular. Highlighting a page in a paperback is a different process for the mind than highlighting digitally and aids in retention. Also, I have a thing for small trade paperbacks. They're pithy, they're cute. And this one is packed with meaningful stories and writing advice.
I took away many helpful tips, including the mind trick of setting easy goals. Like ridiculously easy goals that it would be embarrassing not to meet. Really, you can't write 10 minutes first thing in the morning (although for me, after my coffee). Just getting to the page is sometimes half the battle because of internal resistance. Often, once you've gotten into the writing it goes longer than the ten minutes, but you can also stop at just ten if it's one of those. Or one of those projects.
Kadavy shares his personal stories in a readable, very accessible way, with an understated humor that invites the reader in. We're brought into everyday struggles and victories, as well as more life-changing, mind-changing moments.
I didn't agree with or relate to every single thing in the book, but that's not the point. It's about trying new things and adding to your toolkit. At least, that's how I look at it.
If you've read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, you will find The Heart to Start a good follow-up read. (If you're a creative and you haven't read The War of Art--what? Get that now too.) Each of the sections of The Heart to Start are essentially practical personal essays that provide a helpful "visual" snapshot into the life of a creative dealing with the everyday troubles of resistance.
I've also found Kadavy's companion Heart to Start podcasts and interviews on YouTube to be interesting and helpful.
I downloaded it today morning n am done reading it by 6pm. I am writing my first children’s story book while working full time in bay area’s rat race. Though I am mostly done with my work, this is a great read, so much to relate to and several points to learn to finish off my work and set up my business. Thank you for sharing your story.
You should read if you are contemplating starting a project of your own and are not finding motivation (in other words have been giving yourself excuses).
I generally skip past writing reviews. I think “I don’t have time for this, it will take forever, and does it really help anyone?” I can say with certainty after reading this book I was able to take ten minutes. Sure, my review might suck. But if it helps one person, then it did its job. This book is about getting started in all things. You can do anything for 10-20 minutes right? Just begin and the rest takes care of itself. Messy is good. Non-linear? Even better.