Saturday, September 5, 2009

How To Be Creative

(my brain, which is hard to keep inside the box even if i try, which i usually don't)

I subscribe to a wonderful blog by Kate Harper, called Greeting Card Designer. Kate is a phenomenal designer, with a terrific line of cards at Target that feature quotes by children (as well as many other terrific cards that I wish I had thought of first).

Kate often posts links to other wonderful blogs. Today she sent her faithful readers to the Outlaw Design Blog, where there is an article called "10 Ways to Beat the Hell Out of Creative Block."

First of all, I love this title.

Second, there are some great recommendations here. If you are ever at a loss for blog topics, or you have another creative project to work on, these tips might help. Here are a few of the ideas, which of course are more fully explained in the article:

  • Change of scenery
  • Work somewhere else
  • Brainstorm with others
  • Go eat
  • Work 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off

I have one other suggestion: Look at your creative task sideways.

This is a concept I stumbled upon quite by accident.

I am often called upon to come up with headlines for various promotional projects. A client might say, "We would like to send out a postcard to attract some new savings accounts. A new bank just opened down the street, and we want to stress the fact that we have higher rates."

At first I would just look at this straight on, which resulted in headlines like:

Bigger is better

or, if I was really short on time:

Our rates are higher

Pretty boring.

But then I learned to look at topics sideways. Why would people care that you have higher rates? Because they will make more money. Why do they care about that? Because it makes them feel smart and successful. So I might write a headline like:

XYZ Financial: Where it's easy to be a financial genius


Or I might use a cliche but suggest a "sideways" graphic:

Graphic: A picture of several people in a row, facing backwards, showing only their shoulders and heads
Headline: We're head and shoulders above the rest

I like to take a sideways approach to my blog posts as well. Rather than just telling you what my childhood piano recitals were like, I posted an "invitation" from my piano teacher. (It was pretty funny. Here it is in case you missed it.)

In fact, this post is one of the least sideways posts I've done! So you might want to stand on your head or something while you read it.

Otherwise you might not recognize me.



Warren Baldwin said...

Linked here from Chicamom.

I liked this. I write a lot so I, too, look for a creative angle. I like the sideways look especially. I'll try to come back and read the piano post.

Good blog. wb

Fran Hill said...

Some great tips here, Lesley. I love hearing about your copywriting jobs.

Lazy Writer said...

Great tips! I love your sideways suggestion. I think I'll give it a try.

Amanda said...

Been feeling empty headed as of late, so any tips are greatly appreciated....

The Retired One said...

I prefer to look at it from inside out and sideways...which explains a LOT about my blog. ha


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