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Two Words To Ensure Creative Success Every Time – Hard Work


Sitting with sketch pad
Image via Getty Images

When the going gets tough, the tough look at the award show annuals for "inspiration." Well, let's replace that second tough with another word.

How about lazy?

Or frustrated?

Or maybe inexperienced?

All will suffice. But tough it not even close. Because as any hard-nosed, long-time creative person will tell you, there's nothing tough about ripping off another idea. And all too often, it can be avoided if you put in the groundwork and follow a set of rules that lead to a wealth of creative riches.

We Are Not Artists, We Are Advertisers.

If Picasso was not feeling the creative juices flowing, he could take a day off. Or a week off. Chances are, he was so dedicated to his art that he never really took any time off, but it was his remit to do so.

In advertising, we do not have that privilege. We are paid to think, create and persuade. And as such, our clients do not have the time, nor money, to sit around for a few days while we get over writer's (or art director's) block.

A sure fire way to avoid this problem is to work a certain way on every project. Many creative have a routine that they stick to rigidly, as it helps them avoid digging a dry well, or becoming so anxious they make themselves ill.

· Try writing everything down that you know about the product or service, whether it's on a notepad, a white board or anything else handy.

· Next, sift through that information and distill it. Then, look for the beginnings of campaign ideas, ads, or taglines.

· Make sure you give yourself time to let the subconscious do its job. 90% of the times, the best ideas come from doing great groundwork and then feeding it to the brain. The brain, in turn, will reward that hard work by putting two seemingly distant ideas together.

· Write up every idea you have, or sketch it, and pin it to the wall. When all ideas share the same space, they can cross-pollinate, and that can lead to exciting results.

· And be sure you always do this with a partner, or someone you can talk to. Bill Bernbach was an advertising genius for many reasons, but one of the biggest was putting teams together to work out solutions to ad problems.

Do this, and do it rigorously for each client, and it will start to pay off for you after a few months. And with more experience, you'll get better and better, and quicker.

But There Is One Caveat To Hard Work - Burnout Is Possible

Do not fall into the trap of working so hard, for so long, on one particular project that you become an empty shell. Some people say that ad creative have no right to get burned out, they are just doing a job, like accountants or mechanics.

Well, true.

We do get paid to create. But it's usually in the best interests of the client, and the sanity of the agency creative, to swap them around to keep the work fresh, different and full of vitality. Ideas get stale. People get stale. It doesn't mean they're bad creatives, they're just "tapped out" and can be utilized much better on other jobs. It's the same principle used for farming. Every year, crop rotation is employed so that one field is not drained of one type of nutrient. In the same way, keep a team working hard on one client for months, or even years, and the ideas will not flow as easily.

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