Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Creativity Is Hard

Let's admit it. Creativity is hard. It can be exhausting just as much as it can be thrilling.

I've worked with non-creatives who understood that. They get that it takes time to craft something. And that the muses aren't always smiling down upon us with inspiration. But I've also worked with folks who think it shouldn't be that hard--sadly both creatives and non-creatives. They figure they can type on a keyboard so they can write or that they look at pictures so they know design.

What it really comes down to though is that good creative is a combination of strategy and creativity. And that makes it much more complicated.

Finding a great photo or making a cool design isn't enough. Writing the most hilarious script or headline isn't enough. It has to tie back into the strategy. It has to feel fresh. It needs to have an element of surprise.

Now, there are some people I've worked with who would rather back in to a strategy. And that makes my skin crawl. It's just not the way to do things. The strategy of who you're talking to, why the hell they should care, or behavioral or cultural attitudes is really key to coming up with smart, effective and good creative. Creative briefs should include this information. All too often, they tend to end up with generic, useless information that doesn't help drive anything creative.

In those instances, I've taken it upon myself to hunt down strategic thinking I can employ in the work. Research isn't always easy. It can take away from being in the "creative zone", if you will. But it's invaluable and very necessary, especially if you don't have a team of strategists providing you with usable insights. At my last agency, I was probably the only creative who was accessing eMarketer, Forrester, or the like.

Sure, there are times when an idea just comes to you and it really is effortless. But it's not the norm. The headlines, the visuals, the user experience...they are things that are slaved over by people who are looking to find the best way to do something. And you can tell sometimes when a TV spot or even banner ad has been picked apart to the point that there is no idea left. Removing the good creative leaves nothing but a pathetic shell of a "reason to believe" with a call to action.

Even the "greats" of classical creativity like da Vinci, Van Gogh, Shakespeare, and Einstein (yes, he was creative!), had to work hard to achieve what they did. To think any other way is just absurd.

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