How To Become Savagely Creative

by Dec 5, 2019

If you want to become a better version of yourself, you need to get stronger both physically and mentally.

This means that you will need to challenge yourself in many different ways.

You are already grappling with how to fix your diet, your sleep, fitness and relationships…

But I’m here to tell you this:

  • You need to become savagely creative as well

Becoming savagely creative will help you on your path to self-sufficiency.

Here are seven ways to savagely increase your creativity and become a more innovative and imaginative beast.

Embrace the Way of the Craftsman

This is about doing a good job for its own sake.

This is something that our grandfathers knew intuitively.

My grandfather was a master builder and while he’s been gone many years what I remember of him I connect to his workshop, the tools he used and the things he built.

As kids, we would go around to my grandparent’s place on a Sunday afternoon.

I’d sit outside and straighten rusty nails for him while he was busy making stuff.

I remember watching him work.

But what I realise now is that the work wasn’t the means to an end for him.

It was the end in itself.

So… do you want to get stronger in body and mind?

Embrace the Way of the Craftsman.

Here’s how:

  • Learn a trade or craft
  • Choose something with a history and traditions that you can discover and explore
  • Pick something and make a start
  • Start small
  • Then practice, practice, practice

For me, it’s leatherwork.

When I started, I knew nothing about the tools or techniques.

All I had was curiosity and desire to make the cool stuff I had always wanted.

Flash forward a few years and somehow I have more than 11,000 people following my journey on Instagram.

All I did was start learning a craft.

The photos were simply a way of documenting what I was doing for myself.

Life is an algorithm that rewards consistency.

Choose something, get started and then do it over and over.

And share your work.

Others will notice.

Connect your head and your hands

Next, if you want to become the Apex Predator of creativity you will need to learn to think with your hands.

Savagely creativity means connecting your head and your hands.

This is how you find – and literally MAKE – meaning.

If you only know how to think with your head, you don’t really know how to think at all.

Thinking with your head alone does not embody the kind of savage creative thinking I’m talking about.

So how do you connect your head and hands?

By doing the following:

  • Build, make or create in the real world
  • Use your hands
  • Use tools

Learn to build, make and create in real-time and in the real world.

If you want to be savagely creative, you need to become the architect of your own shit.

I’ve just told you how.

But you need to do it and own it for yourself.

Make things with your bare hands

I mentioned this before but it’s worth unpacking.

When you embrace the pure physicality of building something with your bare hands, it’s like a light goes on inside your brain.

It’s like waking up.

It’s like you were wired up to do this…!

Throw off the shackles of the academy, of bureaucracy and of the cubical office.

Instead, commit to walking the path of the Maker, the Builder and the Creator.

Making cool shit with your hands is what leads to:

  • Mastery
  • Thinking properly and clearly
  • Learning how to live well
  • Savage creativity

You see… building, making and creating are thinking. But the reverse isn’t true.

The so-called civilised world of lawyers and accountants alleges that you can understand something with just your head.

But for the warrior-monk, the barbarian and the craftsman, we can’t really understand something that we cannot do well practically.

When you use your hands, you force yourself to work in the real world, the world of atoms.

Sure, it’s fun building in the world of bits and bytes too.

But there is something greater and more satisfying about manual, physical labour in the real world.

People will envy you for this because you will become one of those others – that gets real shit done and creates real physical stuff.

Now… if you’re stuck in a stressful job, stuck in a terrible relationship, stuck financially you’re likely to have a voice inside your head that goes something like this:

“I know I need to do something… I wish I could become more creative… But how do I get started? It’s just so hard to get started…”

I hear that voice too.

Working with your hands will help you kill that voice.

But there are some other ways too.

  • Learn a new skill
  • Reboot an old hobby
  • Don’t forsake the old tools of creativity
  • Steal ideas
  • Practice idea sex
  • Take risks

Let’s examine each one of these next. 

Learn a new skill

If you are serious about increasing your creativity to new and more savage levels, you will need to learn some new skills.

And there’s an unpleasant truth I need to tell you:

  • Learning new stuff is hard

Not gonna lie, I wish it wasn’t.

Too bad.

Suck it up.

But it gets worse:

  • You will need to practice and practice and practice

But here’s the thing – the path to savage creativity is also the path to mastery.

And this means repetition.

Repetition is not cool these days.

You might think it’s boring.

The reality is that it’s not and it doesn’t matter what you think about it.

Even if you have the attention span of a gnat, this is something that you can improve on the more you do it.

A word of warning – you may need to be savage with yourself when it comes to practice, repetition and increasing your attention span.

Recently, I started bone carving.

It’s been a massive learning curve because I know nothing about it.

At the time of writing, I’ve got about 20 hours under my belt and most of that is sanding.

Just hours of sanding.

But I was prepared for this.

Practice and repetition are like a kind of Zen meditation for me now.

Reboot an old hobby

In my late teens and early 20s, I was obsessed with music.

Looking back, I think I would have sold my soul to the devil if I’d been able to find a deserted crossroads somewhere.

At one stage, I played in 6 different bands at once including a country music band, a rock band and alternative band playing original music.

Then I went off to university and left it all behind.

One day I woke up and almost 30 years had gone by.

I never lost my passion for music, but I had stopped playing and this is really where I had sold my soul.

Part of it anyway.

Recently I made the decision to reboot my musical interests and started writing and recording music.

This then opened the door to a bunch of crazy collaborations with people from around the world including old and new friends:

Now, I feel like I have my mojo back.

But it doesn’t have to be music… it’s going to be something different for you.

What were you passionate about all those years ago?

Do you have an old hobby or interest that you could breathe some new life into?

Do it.

Reclaim your creativity and your soul at the same time.

Don’t forsake the old tools of creativity

If you want to become savagely creative you should take another look at the old tools of creativity.

These are the tools used by master craftsman, inventors and makers across the centuries.

They are low tech tools and include things like:

  • Drawing and sketching
  • Writing and journaling
  • Making models
  • Creating plans and patterns
  • Prototyping

I don’t think you need a 21st-century screen-driven app to draw or sketch.

I mean, I know you can do that, but just get some paper and pens for goodness sake.

Hell, it was good enough for Leonardo Da Vinci.

He didn’t need a CAD programme.

Or an iPad.

But he sketched, drew pictures, took notes, did experiments and built all kinds of cool stuff.

Don’t let the tools of modern technology stop you from the learning you experience when you use your hands and the old tools of creativity.

And remember, the pen may be mightier than the sword.

But at least you can stab someone with either.

Or both.

Can’t say the same about Microsoft Office.

Steal ideas

Pablo Picasso once joked that “good artists copy, great artists steal”?

You’re a barbarian, right?

You’re supposed to plunder the civilised world for your needs and wants.

So, you don’t have to be original.

In fact, there are very few original ideas and people.

Just have a look around and take the ideas you want.

If you want to steal this idea (on stealing ideas) make sure you check out the excellent and very short book called Steal Like an Artist by Austin Klein.

And if you don’t, I’ve stolen the takeaways.

Here they are:

Practice idea sex

This one is dangerous.

The idea of idea sex comes from James Altucher whose podcasts and books I’ve been listening to or reading for years.

He has a great story about the guy that invented the GI Joe action figures.

The short version is that the GI Joe action figures just combined two very ordinary ideas in a unique way.

One idea was that girls like to play with dolls but at that time there were no dolls for boys to play with.

The other idea was that boys liked guns and action.

So he combined the two ideas and made a doll based on a soldier with a gun and called it an action figure.

This is what James calls idea sex and the idea is simple:

  • Make two lists of things that people love
  • Combine the lists
  • Have fun and do it every day
  • Pick the best idea
  • Make money and make people happy

When you put together two kinda ordinary concepts the result can be groundbreaking.

You don’t have to dream up completely new concepts.

Take risks

Taking risks is dangerous, right?

But you laugh in the face of danger, right?


You need to take risks – I think we can agree on that.

But risk-taking can either kill your creativity or set it on fire.

So you need to take some care about the nature of the risks that you are willing to take.

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is an excellent way to boost your creativity.

I’ve done a lot of things recently to deliberately put myself outside of my comfort zone.

The result is that I have greatly increased my creative output.

So I know it works.

The most recent example was being invited to speak at the Aion Conference.

In order to participate, I needed to record an hour-long talk and then contribute some additional material that the conference promoters could use as part of a premium VIP package.

The trouble was I had never recorded a video talk like this, and I had no content to go with it.

In fact, I didn’t really even know what I was talking about.

I was still learning.

And I hate seeing myself on screen.

This triggered a series of events for me including:

  • A massive series of tweets exploring craftsmanship, the topic they wanted me to speak about
  • Writing a series of newsletter articles for the Aion newsletter that combined some of these ideas in a more coherent format
  • Combining the newsletter articles and other writing into a 15,000-word ebook which I self-published.
  • Scripting and recording an hour-long talk which will be released on 1 January alongside a stellar cast in the first-ever Aion Conference.

I had to get over myself.

You can too.

Read Sanction by Roman McClay

Here’s the last thing.

I touched on this before.

If there is one artefact that embodies the ethic of creative savagery it’s the novel Sanction, by Roman McClay.

In this multi-volume work, the author – a modern-day barbarian who lives alone on a mountain top – does everything I’ve explored here.

Plus some.

And what’s more, he embodies it.

Aside from seeing a great example of what truly savage creative craftsmanship looks like, reading Sanction will inspire you – as it has inspired me and others – to be more creative.

I couldn’t get past the first few chapters without seizing the bull by the balls.

The result for me was this collaboration.

And this one.

and this one as well.

And I’m only getting started.
Thanks for reading and thanks for listening.
It’s over to you now.
Go on.
Get after it.


Find more of Graeme here



  1. Members Only Post #50 – Developing A Craft – Charles Sledge - […] I read a great post on Barbarian Rhetoric titled “How To Become Savagely Creative” and it got me thinking…
%d bloggers like this: