Posts Tagged ‘creativity’


There are times I find myself impatiently, even nervously, Waiting for It. The inspiration, that is. I stare at my notes, at the client’s materials, at this pile of stuff, just waiting for the spark. And sometimes it’s slow in coming.

This can happen on my very first assignment with a new client, when that first impression is so crucial. For me, though, it’s more likely to be the seventh or eighth assignment, when I have said absolutely everything I can about their amazing product or service or patented process. When they change one detail, and expect a whole new animal.

So I have picked up a few tricks, fillers and time killers to occupy my brain and hopefully kick-start the creativity.

  • Change of scenery: Packing up and heading to the coffee shop, for a whole different set of distractions.
  • Shutting off the damn internet: sort of self-explanatory
  • Reading the job ticket: Sometimes I find a hidden morsel of previously overlooked info. “Oh, they want to SELL their product! That makes more sense!”
  • Thesaurus.com: I use this one all the time, on practically every job. “Ah, to garrote is to strangle! Good to know!”
  • Etymology: Studying the origins of words. In high school (Blackboard Jungle High ’82) I took two years of Latin, as well as Latin and Greek etymology. I’m like the dad in Big Fat Greek Wedding: “You give me word, I tell you Greek root.”
  • Reading the materials yet again: the client’s collateral stuff like their website, brochures, news clippings, or PR materials.
  • Imprinting: I don’t know a better word for it but, in severe cases, I will prop up their collateral stuff and start re-typing it word for word. The idea is to get their words in my head. I read that author Alexandra Ripley, having won the dubious honor of penning the sequel to Gone With the Wind, first copied the original novel in its entirety…by hand. The result, “Scarlett,” blew chunks, but I still like the idea.

When all else fails, just write. This is something I had to learn when I first started writing professionally. I used to think that if it wasn’t perfect on the first draft…I don’t know…that they would see what a FRAUD I was! I have since learned that you just need to give them something to react to. It’s just a first draft! It’s not meant to be perfect.

Besides, in the act of critiquing the first draft they just might actually, finally, tell you what they want.

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Well, it snuck up on me yet again, and I barely had time to shop. I am referring, obviously, to Creativity Day. A revered tradition ever since I discovered it in a Google search three days ago, Creativity Day is celebrated in 46 countries across this world of R’s. It began in 2002 and is generally celebrated around the week of Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday.

I attended an ITVA conference (bonus points if you remember what that means) in Seattle many years back. Looking ahead, I realized I didn’t want to be hoisting 300lbs of video gear around airports when I was 40. So I decided to start developing my writing, which I had neglected since college.

I signed up for a seminar on Fostering Creativity. It turned out to be an hour-long tribute to Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the Japanese inventor whose name always seems to come up in these discussions. Dr. Nakamatsu is the Japanese answer to Thomas Edison (if Edison didn’t spend the second half of his life suing people’s asses off for patent infringement.) He is credited with inventing the floppy disc, the CD and the digital watch, and 3200 other things.

The details of this seminar are lost in time, but I do remember a few things. In his house (stately Nakamatsu Manor) he has a room made entirely of metal, a room of wood, an arboretum, etc. He meditates daily in each of these rooms, challenging his brain to adapt to each of these different environments. He also shakes up his routine, like taking a different route to work every day.

I recall an exercise that has stuck with me forever…and this was at least ten years ago. Try this… cross your arms, but don’t look. Which arm is on top? Whichever arm it is, that is the one that is ALWAYS on top. You don’t even think about it. Now, cross your arms and purposely place the other arm on top. It just feels WEIRD. That feeling, according to the mad doctor, is the sensation of new neural pathways being formed. Or something.

And so, there is a message of hope on this joyous Creativity Day. When the ideas refuse to flow (or maybe only flow in little clots) shake up your routine. It certainly can’t hurt. As for that dream of not hoisting 300lbs of video gear at age 40? Well, it was a nice dream, anyway. At least the equipment has gotten smaller…thanks to guys like Yoshiro Nakamatsu.

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