Like I spout in The Human Freelancer book: creativity isn’t the slippery unicorn it’s made out to be. It’s within your grasp, and just needs the right conditions to fester; like a noxious fart in a hot shower.
The hazy genesis of ideas is covered glibly enough in the ‘Mammalian creativity’ chapter, so now it’s time for a hard practical example of a creative process in operation.
So here’s a blow-by-blow account of how I tackled a recent project which demanded use of my imagination for ends other than scatological smilies. This is spread over the course of a day or two for a professional copywriting project, so adapt/hack as you see fit.
- Reduce the project to its underlying principles: what needs to be fixed; what must be included in any solution
- Harvest as much information about the subject as you can get your hands on
- Distil your own interpretations: jot notes about how you perceive the problem
- Find out what’s been done before: research similar projects or what the competition does
- Take a break for a day: go for a walk, visit friends (whatever works for you)
- Read it all over again
- Take another break (this is where it gets hard to resist getting stuck in)
- Get stuck in: record any and all rough creative angles/ideas you might explore later
- Sound your ideas out: ask your client for feedback and ask which directions they want explored (emphasise they’re still rough)
- Get stuck in again: refine your earlier ideas or new ones
- Throw in some extra wild card ideas: ones that didn’t get past your censor the first time
- Hand your best ones back to the client
There you have it. In a nutshell: loads of reading, thinking, breaks and holding off the actual ‘doing’ however hard it is to resist.
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