Just write…

Creativity Flows by tangyauhoong

Creativity Flows by tangyauhoong


Many years ago a very wise and organised person once told me to get things done you just have to start.  I am the worlds biggest procrastinator, and know (painfully) that what she says is true. If I do start on something, then it gets done. MIRACLE!

So, I have two posts to write. On about a great session on creativity I attended last week, and another on the on line social networking in business conference that was held in Sydney these last two days.  I am tired and hungry, so one of them will suffice for now.  The other I can write…later.

The creativity event was a panel discussion between Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Darren Kemp, and held for our clients. We explored the difference between creativity in the arts and in business, and with Cate and Andrew the new artistic directors at the STC, they had a view on both the biz and the “arty” side. 

Key things I took away from the session…

1. Creativity needs to have the right environment – not necessarily a physical space, but a mindset 

2. It takes a hell of a lot of preparation. If someone says they had a “eureka” moment, it’s bullshit. They’ve been thinking long and hard about it before

3. You can only be creative if you have a belief in yourself and your ideas – no “ooohh, I’m so not creative”…because then you will be seen and act as a “non-creative”-type

4. you need to give an idea some room to take shape – to gather language, to become articulated in a way that others can understand . An idea in its early stage may seem nuts – for an actor it may just be a physical gesture, in business it may be a fleeting thought that at first makes only a tiny bit of sense

5. Keep your thoughts – even if that initial idea doesn’t evolve into anything straight away get it down, keep it, put  in a folder or a drawer, jot it down and doodle on paper – and keep it in a place you can revisit. These ideas may stand up by themselves one day, or they may link together to form a bigger idea that begins to take shape without you even realising it 

6. Give yourself time to daydream – build in extra time in your day to just think and reflect. Change your environment. Stimulate your brain.  A trip to the supermarket to browse the shelves when you are working on financial services.  Read a design magazine when you are working on a tracking project. Visit an art gallery when you are trying to solve a difficult strategic issue. Give your head a chance to make connections it wouldn’t get a chance to make otherwise.

7. Be open to inspiration – it can be fleeting.  Make connections that appear random and odd. Inspiration can come from the weirdest of sources – don’t dismiss it. 

8. The most creative people appear to have the best (and most random) “stuff” floating in their heads. This enables them to make links and patterns. You may look at that person and think “owww, they are so creative” but all they’ve done is been a curious sponge and nicked ideas from all around them. Feel free to nick them too! 

9. there was lots of discussion about individual creativity v group creativity. In the arts it is often an individual who comes up with the idea, but in Biz we like to think of “teamwork” getting us there. Interesting discussion about whether teamwork being merely an easier way to sell in an idea to a group if they are there to see it take shape, or is it actually a good way to help make those random connections to bring an idea further along, or make it stronger – no conclusion and I think it’s a bit of both

10. very interesting discussion around constraints and freedoms that creativity needs to get going. Without the constraints a person can juts go on and on, open-ended, a bit of a wank. But with too much constraint an idea can be strangled.  Getting that tension right is where amazing things happen. Posted about this before here. 

11. “Creative Genius” – a phrase that Andrew Upton pretty much spat upon (I feel the same way about anyone who is called a “marketing/on-line/qualitative research/youth marketing/whatever guru” – am I supposed to worship at your feet? Probably…) But Upton made this great point that you get to wear the moniker of genius long after you are dead, and it can only happen when your ideas are tested, and people try to smash them, and they are re-interpreted and they keep bouncing back and still stand as strong as the first day they came about. I’ve been thinking about brands in connection with this – what brands can survive creation, then handover to many brand owners, and survive generations, and are just too strong to be killed off. Coke? Any other ideas welcome! 

12. and finally I will leave the last point to Cate (who is pretty luminous and has a very strong presence and free from any bullshit quota which is nice) – her favourite moment in doing a play is that last rehearsal or the first preview, when you are still searching for that balance between freedom and constraint, getting it right and still trying to work out how you move, what is the best way. And you know you are nearly there, but not quite.  It’s like a client wanting an idea to be 100% perfect before it’s out there – it’s unreal, it becomes too smooth and too second guessed. There’s nothing “sparky” about it. It’s a bit beige. And that’s made me think about a point made today at the conference…but more on that later!

That “thing” Cate talked about is like most stuff – relationships, cooking, reading a book, woring on a problem.  The lovely feeling when there are no smooth edges yet, things are still a little uncharted, you are still making it up as you go along. Before things conclude and become perfect. 

Then it just becomes a little dull.



Filed under marketing

5 responses to “Just write…

  1. What a great meeting you must have had there! I really agree on those points I would just add or precise sthg is the more clearer the problem you have to solve is the better your creativity will be.
    There is quite an analytical framework to settle before creativity.
    And I love Cate Blanchet.

  2. Great post! this is going to my favorites.

  3. kelpenhagen

    stetoscope – yes! Knowing what you are trying to create to is critical, or it becomes aimless (and becomes a big time waster!) I guess this is also part of the prep stage. Darren Kemp quoted Einstein who was once asked how he would solve the worlds problems in an hour. he said he’d send 55 minutes defining what the problems were, then five minutes solving it.

    Morgan- thank you!

  4. Awesome post, and it’s inspired me for the afternoon.

    I love point 5 – reminds me of Roald Dahl’s writing books, he had notebooks full of one-line scribblings such as “boy is let loose in a chocolate factory”, which became the amazing stories we know today.

    It’s a great reminder that amazing stories and businesses can come out of a simple one line idea.

  5. kelpenhagen

    Thanks Cheryl – I agree.

    Often I’m in a cab between meetings and jot something down that’s popped into my head, and that one line has either saved my arse later or started a line of interesting thinking at some point down the track

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