Skip to main content


Lesson 5 from: Discovering Your Creative Voice

Chris Orwig

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

5. Manifesto

Next Lesson: Time

Lesson Info


Jack London once wrote these powerful words, I want to share them with you. He said, "I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze, than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." And Jack London was someone who did that beyond, without a shadow of a doubt. In a way, I think these words are a manifesto for who he was. What is a manifesto? Well, I wrote down a few words. It's a public declaration of aims and intent. Often it's a written statement. Now, a lot of times we'll have this magnetic north or we'll have a few ideas about what our value are, where we want to go. But taking the time to actually write it down can be an incredibly powerful practice because it clarify your creative process, right, clarify who you wan...

t to be and what you actually want to do and how you want to do that thing. Why don't more people do it? Well, I think because it's really difficult to do. So, in order to help out with that, in order to get you thinking about how you could write your own, I want to talk about a few other manifestos, some that a few other folks have written, and talk about how we can take something, which is big and eventually make it small. Let's start with Jack London. He said, "I would rather be ashes than dust," and then he went on with all of these other sentences about, "the function of man is to live, not to exist," "I shall not waste my days," etc. etc. Well, how could we distill what is maybe five or six sentences into one? I think that first phrase, "I would rather be ashes than dust," could get even smaller, "ashes than dust." I think that would be enough if you had that inscribed on your desk or something like that. That would be enough to trigger the rest of that phrase. Now, this isn't about trying to create some catchy marketing phrase, this isn't something that you're gonna share or you're gonna put on your website. This is something internal and for you. So, you can see how that might work in that way. Let's go to another one, a photographer. In this case, this photographer writes a huge paragraph, then we're gonna get it smaller. "My work is based off something I realized in my teens. A realization that after somewhere you want to go there's nothing in your way. A realization that if there's a skill you want, you're halfway to having it. A realization that if you want to climb a mountain, all it takes is a little bit of pain, one step at a time. A realization that there's something you want to learn, there are people to teach you. And if you fall down, your friends, they will pick you right back up. So, chase, fight, sweat and support those around you. And if you dream hard enough, reality might scare you when everything comes true." So, there it is, there's his thing. He also created a video that went with it, it's a very beautiful and poetic piece. The guy's name is Thomas Woodson, you could look it up. How would we take that manifesto and perhaps make it even shorter and smaller, more concise? Well, we could start off by saying something like this, "While in my teens I realized that with the help of your friends, if you fight, and sweat, and strive, dreams do come true," 'cause that's really the essence of it, right? It happened in his teens, help of friends, get some fight, some grit in there, dreams are possible. Let's go even further, let's remove the "teens" part, we don't need that, right? We don't need to know when this started. It's "Fight, sweat, support makes dreams come true." Let's go even farther. "Fight, sweat, support makes dreams." That's it, that's enough. That's wonderful and powerful manifesto. Now, you can't start small and then try to go big. It's always better to go big and then shrink it down. How would I try to do that myself? Well, in my own life, I've thought about things, like, okay, what's my manifesto? And I've taken a stab at it by doing it a couple different ways. One is thinking about things I really value and like. I love sea glass, I live in a town right along the coast. I love walking the beach and picking up sea glass. And, so, for me that small item became a key to writing out a poetic idea about my manifesto. Here it is. This is more poem, but just take it in. I want to be like the sea, who takes sharp broken glass and sees it through to the other side. Deep and constant with many shades of blue, who's patience and persistence pays off in subtle ways, louring others to be renewed, to gaze, breathe, and slow down. To walk to the edge of solid ground. Daydreaming, once again, free and alive, while blue jeans once again get wet from the white foamy waves, now changed like the sea glass in that faded wooden bowl that sat next to my grandmother's green shag couch. Rough edges now smooth. Even as a child when I twirled my fingers through that bowl, I felt like I understood something that was honest and true. Once broken, but now new. Holding up a piece to the window, as if illuminated from the inside out was a muted yet magnificent glow that was quiet and strong. It made me want to whisper, "I want to be like the sea." And, so, this idea, obviously, is the sense that we have broken bottle, the sea takes it and turns it into something beautiful. That is what I want my life to be about. How would I distill that? Well, it could just be a single piece of sea glass, just having that piece of sea glass on my desk and remembering, hey, ya, that's what I'm about, that is my manifesto. That's how I want to approach people, that's what I want to do in this life. So, that's a bit more of a poetic way, but if poetics don't work for you what else could you do? Well, you could think about work. For me, in my work, and some of the things I try to do is I try to savor life in photographs. I try to write books that inspire. I'm interested in living life to the fullest, inspiring others to be more creative and free. I want to teach and empower change. Okay, well, that's a lot, right? So, how then do you distill it? Well, you can imagine where I'm gonna go, right? The core of that, I think, is really three words, it's inspire, empower, and teach, and so maybe it's taking all of that and just getting down to those three words. And, so, what's the exercise for you? What I want you do is to think of your own personal intent and writing out a declaration of what that is. How you want to live, who you are, what are your values, what do you want to be about? And don't get too worried about the mess of roles and the different things you do in your job, or the type of art that you create, or the work that you do. This is something that sort of arches over all of that. You may try to take a stab at it poetically, if poets don't work think of music. What would be my theme song for my manifesto? Maybe the theme song is Rocky, you know the Rock theme song, or from Chariots of Fire, or Indiana Jones. You're just picking up, yeah, I want my theme song to be something which is kind of exciting and adventurous and inspiring, or maybe your theme song is an indie rock band song that you like that's a little bit just askew and off beat and interesting in that way. Music can be a great way to access what these things are inside. Of course, you're not gonna really have a song, but it gets the wheels spinning. And then just start to write down some ideas. Write them down in sentence form, kind of like Jack London did, and then once you take that, whittle it down, and ideally what I hope you can do is start with a paragraph and maybe get it down to 10 words, five, maybe even three. And by doing that what you'll do is get to that core idea of what your manifesto is. That can then shape how and what you create. Alright, well, how else can we dig deeper into this topic? Of course, spending some time journaling is key, right? It might also be some help to spend some time reading a few books, so, there are two that I want to recommend. There's Linchpin by Seth Godin, this book is a profound book about this whole idea of really thinking about who we are, and what matters most in regards to the work that we do and how we approach life. If you're not into reading you could always do a quick Google search for that and you could find some videos about the topic as well. The next one is, Do The Work by Steven Pressfield, another great manifesto about getting out there, getting things done and doing the work itself. Alright, well, with this one it's a little bit meatier, it's a little bit heavier, a little bit more significant. Sometimes when something significant like this, like, this is my manifesto, this thing's gotta be good, it can stifle the creative process. Don't let that happen, just relax a little bit, say, hey, this isn't for the world, this isn't a catchy marketing phrase, this isn't something that I'm gonna post online, this is just for me to process and to think. And if you can't think of anything, I mean, if you are stuck, go to other people that inspire you can temporarily adopt theirs, that's what I did with Jack London. For a while, his manifesto was mine and then eventually I grew out of that and I created, or crafted my own. Alright, well hopefully there's something valuable in here. Be sure to take some time today or this week to write out a manifesto of your own.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Discovering Your Creative Voice - Bonus Video - HD
Creative Voice Resource Guide
Ikigai Template

Ratings and Reviews


Excellent. Would recommend this to every creative soul. Inspiring . Thank you very much Chris for this course.

Brenda Pollock Smith

Chris is an evangelist for all creatives. He facilitates expanding our creativity in very simple, practical ways. Really good stuff! Thank you Creative Live for offering this kind of soul food content.

François Morisset

Wow...we need more of Chris Orwig..His wisdom in life mix with photography is extraordinary! What a great gift I got from creativelive..that gift is Chris Orwig. thank you soo much

Student Work