An Audience of One Book Summary - An Audience of One Book explained in key points
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An Audience of One summary

Srinivas Rao

Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake

4.3 (90 ratings)
23 mins
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    An Audience of One
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    A satisfying creative life is a matter of staying true to your voice and not seeking external validation.

    If you have strong creative impulses, you might feel torn between the desire to stay true to your personal vision and the wish to create something with wide appeal.

    Let’s say you recently talked to someone about a creative project – a book, say, or a painting or a new app – and the person’s first response is to give you advice on how to make your creation as audience-friendly as possible.

    This sort of advice may be well-intended, but the truth is that you’re bound to be unsatisfied and ultimately unhappy when you create with the expectations of others in mind.

    If you’re preoccupied with critical reviews, financial rewards or audience accolades, you’ll almost surely be miserable, since these are all extrinsic motivators – that is, they’re all responses that you have no control over. The ultimate results of your work, including how many people think it’s a masterpiece and how many find it boring, are not up to you, so you’re only going to be setting yourself up for disappointment by focusing on extrinsic motivators.

    Furthermore, if you give in and change your work in an effort to make your work more “appealing,” you’ll likely regret these compromises to your true vision – especially if the advice doesn’t pan out and you don’t get those results you were after.

    The greatest rewards of creativity are having a vision and then turning it into a reality. This is a process you control completely, and it’s one that comes with tremendous satisfaction and happiness in and of itself.

    David Bowie repeatedly warned against doing work for “other people” and stressed the importance of remembering why you felt the personal urge to create in the first place. Bowie didn’t create to be famous; he created to better understand himself and to “do something artistically important.”

    Or think of Daft Punk. The dance-music duo is so indifferent toward fame that they hide their identities behind costumes. And they’re so uninterested in monetary rewards that they spent their paycheck from a 2006 Coachella appearance on the performance itself, so that it could be the coolest show possible.

    Ultimately, the real reward of having your creation be well-received is that it can make it easier for you to continue creating. And when you’re in it for how satisfying the creative process is, then there is no better reward than being able to keep doing what you love.

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    What is An Audience of One about?

    An Audience of One (2018) takes readers on a deep dive into the day-to-day life of the creative mind. Author Srinivas Rao uses his own life experience, as well as plenty of wisdom from other artists and creatives, to explain why there is little happiness or satisfaction in a life spent trying to please others. Rao offers practical and scientific evidence that shows how a rewarding creative life is all about embracing the process and being true to your own vision rather than the expectations of others.

    Best quote from An Audience of One

    The ultimate paradox of creative work is that what you create for an audience of one is much more likely to reach an audience of millions.

    —Srinivas Rao
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    Who should read An Audience of One?

    • Artists and writers who’d like to be more productive
    • Entrepreneurs eager to get closer to their creative side
    • Anyone suffering from creative block

    About the Author

    Srinivas Rao is a writer and host of the popular podcast Unmistakable Creative, which offers insightful interviews with an array of creative minds every week. He is driven to make the world a more artistic place by helping people listen to their creative voice. His previous books include the best-selling The Art of Being Unmistakable.

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