Creativity is not something that just happens
Sometimes you just have to follow your gut. I’m not sure when I first heard these words or who said them to me. I do remember my dad warning me that ‘the eye is a cruel master’ once it became apparent that I would be following him into the industry, although I think that may have been intended as an apology to my wife for the torment she was likely to face being married to a designer. However that’s probably another article.
This piece is intended to try and explain how from a ‘glut’ of ideas (not sure if that’s the appropriate collective term) one is meant to discern ‘the one’. Does it jump off the page? Leap from the screen? Is it the one with bells and whistles? Or the quiet one hidden in the corner of the brainstorm? Let’s be honest it could be any, or none, of these. So where’s the insight then, what’s the secret?
I’ll tell you what I know, what I’ve learned, and it’s not a formula or some trick of the trade although maybe it is an exercise in faith. One of the biggest dangers, as the deadline clock tick-tocks towards pitch pm, is that if you are not careful it is possible to end up desperately convincing yourself, and selling to others, creating a mutual appreciation society, all pats on the back in a display of mock conviction that ‘this’ is the one. But, somewhere, somehow, some part of you knows. Knows you’re clutching. Knows you’re forcing it to fit. Knows that something just isn’t right. Just... knows. So, what to do?
Well firstly, don’t ignore it. Say something. Next, you look again at the problem, you go back, you work. Yes ‘work’. That’s right, put in a shift, often a long one because, despite my opening line, creativity is not something that just happens (well, not often enough anyway) these ideas don’t just present themselves newly formed and ready to deliver to an expectant client. They need moulding, nurturing, challenging, discarding, resurrecting before being tested, and tested, and tested until we know it can stand and hold its own. Know that it’s not the product of puffed up vanity or self assertion but rather the output of focussed attention and deliberate interrogation. Only then does an idea deserve to get wheeled out and fired up ready for launching, (okay I’m mixing metaphors, I’m a creative (makes bunny ears in the air) I can’t help myself) where was I? Oh yes... launching, hopefully, though not always, to the ooohs and aaahs of an adoring, delighted customer base and the praise of your peers (never stop believing).
So you see finding that one perfect idea isn’t a case of having so many to choose from that surely one of them must be right, it’s not just some numbers game, where the guys that have the most are the ones that get it right - although we do do everything we can to encourage ideas from every quarter - like I said before, you can never really predict exactly where or how the right idea is going to start but you can pretty much guarantee that it’ll need a fair bit of work, some tinkering, maybe even a rebuild along the way. It’s about looking hard at the problem and ensuring that what you’re proposing really does do the job. The trick, if indeed there is one, is not to expect that great idea to come walking up to you and smack you undeniably between the eyes but rather to be prepared to knuckle down, to examine and build on one of those ideas, the one that catches the corner of your eye, that has ‘something’, just something, going for it. Trust your instincts. Pursue. Then pray that your gut doesn’t keep you up all night. After all, ‘it’s never too late to start again!’. Now who was it who said that?
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