Time to get creative


Why good things always come to those who wait

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

Steve Jobs

It’s true. An idea always has a backstory. The mental light bulb is inevitably flicked on by one switch or another – an article, sifting through old work or even just a freak occurrence.

We feel as if we’re creating something new, but – without wanting to sound too deep and philosophical – isn’t it just a process of associating established truths?

That’s not saying that creativity has no place. Piecing together a project requires an understanding of numerous factors; industry news, key messages and – of course – what the client really wants.

And it all takes time.

That’s a lesson to learn in its own right, especially if – like me – you come into the industry off the back of more process-driven work. In retail, manufacturing and a host of other sectors, time is one of the most important factors – the quicker you work, the better.

That’s not to say that if a great idea hits you within five minutes of a brief landing you shouldn’t go with it. And in an ideal world that would be the case every time.

But more often than not, fulfilling the brief and stumbling upon that eureka moment takes hours of research and brainstorming. So it’s important that creatives are given time to explore every avenue and develop a deep understanding of the project at hand.

It’s a bit like a broth; lots of ingredients go into the pot in order to create a single, distinctive flavour. And just like a broth, more often than not, the longer you leave it to settle, blend and reduce, the better the end result will be.

The connections Steve Jobs spoke of are the associations we all know. Subway is “fresh”, Apple has an iEverything, NatWest has recently become the “helpful” bank.

It might seem simple enough, but rest assured, there will be a creative team out there that have spent hours labouring over that word, that positioning statement, that shade of red, blue or green.

I guess it’s like anything in life really. The more you do something, the more you immerse yourself in a single project, the more knowledge you can build around the subject, the better qualified you are to apply your own ideas.

But time to come clean – I’ve been a copywriter for less than a year. That said, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had a rapid induction into the peaks and troughs of creative challenge. Everyday I’m finding out new ways to answer briefs, new ways to be creative and new ways to work better – and actually that’s something that I hope won’t ever change.

But ultimately – whether you’re a hare or a tortoise – it’s about finding a process that works for you.

That may just take a bit of time!