Gave up on your New Year’s resolutions? Recharge your creativity with this no-nonsense advice

Some good f*cking advice for creative roadblocks.


So you gave up on your New Year’s resolutions. I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like you might need some tough love to get back on track. And while I’m not going to give that to you, Jason Bacher, Brian Buirge, and Jason Richburg will. They’re the authors of a new book called Do the F*cking Work: Lowbrow Advice for High-Level Creativity, and its chock-full of pithy, expletive-laden words of wisdom for the creative who needs some common sense advice—advice so straight to the point you might feel like someone slapped you across the face with it. But, in a snap-out-of-it good way, okay? Here are a few key pieces of advice from the book:

[Photo: Matt Dayak/courtesy Good Fucking Design Advice]

Don’t f*cking censor yourself

“There’s no room for politics in the grind… It’s a cruel world out there; it doesn’t make accommodations. Survival means making use of whatever you get, whether you like it or not,” the authors write. In other words, if you have an opinion, raise your hand. Don’t keep it to yourself. You never know if someone else on the team might be thinking the same thing. And if you see a problem down the road, you’d better call it out now, before it becomes a bigger issue and more tears are shed.

Give up f*cking control

“Somewhere in the past there’s a cigarette butt, empty bottle, half-eaten cheesecake, discarded treadmill, or a broken heart that proves you can’t always control yourself,” the authors write. “So don’t try to control anyone else… If you hold on too tightly, you might just squeeze the life out of your partnerships.” In other words, create space for others to share their ideas. Collaborating with people from different backgrounds could lead to a solution you haven’t thought of, and progress toward getting a project done. (Also, if you’re super controlling, others on the team may start to resent you. Just saying.)

Preparation over f*cking planning

“Plans can’t account for the unexpected. Forget Post-it notes and Sharpie markers; you better put wet wipes and ponchos on that supply list. Stop making plans and start making progress,” the authors write. Iteration, and its buzzword-worthy cousin, design thinking, can only go so far. Do you have a contingency plan in place in case you need to make changes to what you think is the final version of that client work you just submitted?

Admit when you’re f*cking wrong

“You’re wrong a lot,” the authors write. “In fact, sometimes saying ‘I’m wrong’ is the only time you’re right. It might be wise to start there on occasion.” Have some humility. It can go miles in building a collaborative relationship and a sense of trust with your coworkers. No one’s perfect.

F*cking start over

“Don’t bother counting how many times you pick yourself back up: you only get credit for the last one,” the authors write. Sometimes you need to accept the fact that a project has taken the wrong course. Wave the white flag, take stock of what went right and wrong, consider the knowledge you gain a small positive, and try again.


Of course, there are some clichés in here common to advice books, like “learn from your mistakes” and “carve your own path.” The design of the book, with oversize text, can feel more like a manifesto than a resource; even if a reader doesn’t take the advice to heart, it’s the kind of book a designer might put out on a coffee table or agency lobby so people know you’re a “disruptor.” But overall the book is an ego check, reading a bit like it’s authored by a high school football coach trying to hype up his team. As the book says, there’s no f*cking right answer. So get back out there.

About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.