Thursday, January 7, 2010

The other creativity

I'm sitting here this morning putting together a puzzle. No, it's not a scene from Star Wars (I wish!). It's just a normal part of my job.

You see, yesterday we received a request to re-script a commercial that has already been shot and edited. For those of you who have not been involved in TV production, this is kind of a big deal. Weeks of planning and hard work, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, go into producing a 30-second spot based on an approved script. It's usually step one. (Luckily, there's nobody speaking on camera!)

So here I am, figuring out two options: re-edit existing footage to match the new script, or edit the supplied script to existing footage. Both require a fair bit of resourcefulness.

Resourcefulness is not always given due credit in creative circles. We thrive on inspiration, resourcefulness' celebrity older sister. But as exciting as inspiration is (what could be more scary thrilling than a blank page?), resourcefulness deserves its due.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 1:9

We have a joke among Copywriters, "I need a new word for 'new'". The desire for novelty is what keeps us fresh. At the same time, once you've been doing this for a few years, "Seen it!" becomes a more and more frequent reaction. That shouldn't mean we give up trying, but realizing that inspiration is just recombining — or building on — many other people's ideas is actually liberating. Knowing that inspiration is not magic, but rather natural evolution of ideas, removes the fear of that blank page. You just let the ideas happen. And if they don't, you start looking around for inspiration.

Understanding that you never really have a blank page also gives an insight into the nature of inspiration. It's really just unconscious resourcefulness.

On the other hand, when faced with challenges like today's puzzle, the unconscious just isn't enough. Instead of inspiring myself, I'm problem-solving.

We've all been there. The super-awesome, brilliant, earth-shattering idea that you had at the brainstorming pub lunch five Fridays ago has now been reviewed, approved with changes, focus tested, and generally altered. Some Creatives give up and bemoan the loss of their prodigal daughter. Professionals get resourceful.

Resourcefulness is about taking what you have, evaluating the situation calmly, and using every skill, tool and talent at your disposal to come up with the best possible solution for the situation.

It may not always be art. But resourcefulness is what let humans take over the world.

Now, back to work...

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