The Digital Shoehorn: Those Lazy Bastard Creatives

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From creative teams to designers, to programmers, to social media gurus (ouch) to planners, even to account people; the digital world seems to be ushering in a new democracy of creativity.

"Ideas can come from anywhere; everyone can be creative," we are told. It's a positive thing, and amongst the many that just rehash what they've read on an ad blog, there are the few who genuinely make the work better.

But let me share an insight for all those newcomers to the creative dept; there is a characteristic that seems to run through all the best thinkers: laziness.

The rest of the agency bemoans it now, but if they want to write ads, well they need to get with the program and ignore any programs.

So, let me share some of my findings on how to be more creative by doing less (if you can't be arsed to read on, well, you've already arrived my friend):

1.Sit on your arse and watch more things.
Most books on creativity will advise you to watch and read as much varied content as possible, with one proviso, don't read too much about advertising.
So this means legitimately going to the cinema during working hours (viewed badly); going to art galleries (viewed positively); reading mags, books, blogs, Twitter and porn – in any format.
The reason for all this is to create more connections in your brain.
James Young Webb, in his book 'Techniques for Producing Ideas', likened the brain to a kaleidoscope. The more chards of glass it has the more interesting its patterns. So too with your brain, the more information and connections you have, the more interesting the ideas.

2. Get someone else to write your ideas.
Old school, as they're now known, copywriters, were on to a good thing. Ed McCabe talked about not reaching for a pen or pencil until he knew everything about the product – "when I think, I don't work, when I work, I don't think".
Soak up all the facts, visit the factory where the product is made, talk to some of the workers; an off hand remark, quip or anecdote is often the killer idea just waiting to be expressed (without having to credit - bonus).
Granted, this sounds like more work compared to our Google connected fingertips. But imagine the time you could save by finding great ideas, rather than having to get them out of thin air, or steal them off youtube.

3. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I was especially pleased when I stumbled upon the findings of Professors Jung-Beeman and J.Kounios. Their research proves, without doubt in my professional opinion, that we do some of our best thinking when we're still half asleep. "The insight process is an act of cognitive deliberation – the brain must be focussed on the task at hand – transformed by accidental, serendipitous connections. We must concentrate, but we must concentrate on letting the mind wander".
Dali and Edison both used to hold something heavy in their hands, then drift off to sleep. On relaxing, the heavy object falling on the floor would wake them, and at that very moment they would write down any ideas that were in their mind at that time. One was a lobster phone the other the light bulb. Swings and roundabouts.
It's about jolting the mind out of its usual patterns. The brain goes through an organizing process when it's asleep, catch it at this point and connections between seemingly unconnected things can happen. If you can make sense of them, that's creativity right there, all happening whilst you sleep.

4. Let the conductor conduct.
There is part of our brains which acts much like a conductor of an orchestra. Whilst consciously we are going about our business, our neural conductor never stops. It's reaching out trying to find connections. The only snag with the conductor is he or she is less effective when you are stressed or anxious.
You need to fill you brain with info on a brief, then let the conductor work, go for a walk, play golf, watch a film, cook, smoke, watch porn – in any format.
Professor Jonathan Schooler says, "Just look at the history of science, the big ideas seem to always come when people are sidetracked by something that has nothing to do with their research. Look at the example of Henri Poincaré, the 19th century mathematician, whose seminal insight into non Euclidean geometry arrived while he was boarding a bus."

Dave Bedwood is creative partner at Lean Mean Fighting Machine

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