I teach, therefore I am.
In his book ‘Rules for Mavericks: A Manifesto for Creative Dissidents’, Beadle argues from the position of a system-breaker and does so with a rage which can only suggest he feels like a genuine outsider. Reading the first 50 pages of the book is tough, not only because of the bizarre layout which includes several pages of enlarged font and others with two or three words dropped in various corners, presumably in a nod to subversiveness, but also because of the toxic level of anger which permeates each page. Metaphors of slavery and oppression are spat out at the reader, cleverly placing those who agree with him as the freedom fighters, artists and truth seekers whilst critics are at best ‘intellectually paltry […] guardians of average’ and at worst ‘slavers’. Yet in his battle against the ‘elite’ Beadle seems to have neglected to notice that as a progressive celebrity teacher he is the elite himself, and the ideas of writers such as Barnes, Wilde and Hitchens that he references throughout are hardly those of the underdogs.
When the book moves beyond the visceral emotion, we begin to get more of a sense of humility and with it some actual ideas to put into practice. Beadle’s work as a writer becomes useful fodder for advising fellow writers; he challenges the notion of writing talent emerging through osmosis after reading great writing and instead encourages building knowledge of writing, whether it be grammar, punctuation or imagery, alongside regular deliberate practice. Equally he includes sage advice for creatives about the balance between ideas and action: real mavericks will be judged by their output not simply by the ideas they manifest.
Despite describing evidence informed work as ‘a bloodless script delivered by clueless automatons’ the nods to deliberate practice, mastery and honing your craft based on your strengths don’t seem far from Willingham or Lemov whilst Chapter Three, where he discusses the importance of failure, feels like Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset on speed. It is in this practical advice to an imagined maverick reader where Beadle finds his rhythm and offers some interesting thoughts on the self-imposed behavioural handicaps we use to protect ourselves against failure. The different chapters on production, work and performance all contain glimpses of sensible over-arching ideas such as how to maintain your creative voice whilst also making the most of interesting collaborations, and the importance of chipping away at your work even when you plateau.
(read the rest of review here)