A Writer's Insight Into Enhancing Your Creativity

G's up, hoes down.

Last week I promised ways of overcoming writer’s block. Over the course of the week I jotted down some proven methods of stimulating mental creativity… but I had a pretty big weekend and lost my notes somewhere along the way. I didn’t want to leave you all figuratively hanging, so instead I borrowed some reputable advice from my boy, Method Man:

  1. Roll that shit.
  2. Light that shit
  3. Smoke it.
BAM. And the writer’s block is gone.

So I was skimming through our dubious previous entries in this blog, pondering my choice of topic for this week, when my eyes strayed to the page header. ‘We Are Not Creatives.’ For some reason I couldn’t look away. Leaning closer to the screen, I frowned, stroking my well-manicured goatee. ‘We Are Not Creatives.’ There it was! My chair clattered to the floor as I leapt to my feet in astonishment. Out of nowhere. A flash of genius. An e-motherfucking-piphany. It was like Newton getting that apple to the dome – only this was more profound. I ran from the room, eyes bulging, blog entry forgotten. My realisation? ‘We Are Not Creatives’ … forms the acronym … WANC.

I know, right? Oh, man. I feel like I’ve made a significant discovery. I’m like the Abel Tasman of sexually suggestive acronyms.

Sorry. I must be nearly be getting too old for this shit. Let us return to more important matters. Improving your writing.

Bettering yourself in any aspect of life is not a quickly accomplishable goal. The same goes for writing. It’s not easy. It takes time. I think you need quite a strong sense of self in order to identify your own writing weaknesses. Only once you know your own shortcomings can you take the first steps to improving.

So what is the quickest, most viable and least expensive way to improve your writing?


If you’re grammar are horrible, practice. If you struggle with character depth, practice. If your poetry has all the beauty of Princess Di post-crash, PRACTICE.

Sure, some people are born with innate creativity and are naturally good at their chosen craft, but for everyone else we need to train our minds in the ways of the creative. I firmly refuse to believe that anyone is ‘bad’ (sup, subjectivity) at creative writing; simply they have not had enough practice.

(I was going to throw in an edgy sports practice analogy to get my point across, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. How original would that have been?)

Of course it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to sit down and write a complete piece of prose every evening, but just pen something once a week, once a day, whenever you can. Keep a diary. Start a fitness journal. Contribute vague, badly written posts to an online blog. Write. Do it.

I did these exercises in one of my classes called ‘fast writes,’ which encouraged the act of writing, rather than the quality of writing. In practise this meant writing (about anything) as quickly as possible for 15 minutes, with no regard for structure or coherency. It was an interesting task. Admittedly, I churned out more shit than a Rob Schneider movie marathon, but amongst the turds were some ideas with potential. I expanded on a couple of these fast writes and eventually developed them into (somewhat) reasonable short stories. Some good came out of it, unlike Schneider’s acting career.

Until next week, WANCers.


Snorting Deadlines And The Creative Drip

Pressure makes diamonds. Geologically true. Creatively arguable. It seems the further we go down this creative path the more we are living deadline to deadline, not knowing what work is coming up, only that there is a shitload to be done next. The result? Zero downtime.

Quit your belly-aching! It’s the nature of the work boy. I know mind, I know, but the stress. For example for the last few weeks I have literally been doing nothing, I’m sitting in class and at home overwhelmed by the backlog of assignments behind me and their due-dates ahead of me. A complete inability to think has washed over the brain and I blame stress. Do I have anything to show my tutors aka the client? No, no I do not. Whenever we are expected to meet with them I do the old ‘name at the bottom of the list so they don’t get to you before the class finishes’ trick. Probably not a good ‘real world’ practice, but very effective for buying time.

The problem is that trying to force out an idea when you have deadlines hanging over you is like trying to pop an underdeveloped pimple. It’s going to be a lot of work, hurt like shit, and probably leave you with watery eyes and a feeling like you need to sneeze. Stress demotivates us and that effects idea-generation. For instance my lack of motivation right now is 1000, put that into a measurable unit, eg. Monkeys in front of typewriters and you would not get the complete works of Shakespeare due to the lack of motivation within me, and the monkeys.

It’s been said that pressure makes diamonds. However the same man who said that also said ‘let your ideas marinate’ and some of the ideas I think up under pressure usually require a ton of marination before I throw them on the barbecue. In some countries creatives have months to work on a single brief, insane marination. New Zealand creatives don’t have that luxury, we have to work faster and better to stay competitive, and we do it stupidly well.

After that patriotic, self-assuring and sickeningly ‘empowering’ sentence I have some advice for you.

Task division. The two greatest words you will ever come across when overwhelmed by your deadline demons. It is easy to sit and stare at the pile of briefs beside you and think ‘fuck this I’m going on Facebook’ but look what happens when you take all those excess briefs away and leave only one. All of a sudden MY GOD I’ve just gagged this assignment and now it’s my bitch, snap. The simple concept of out of sight out of mind can completely restore your motivation. Instead of worrying about how much you have to do just focus on one thing at a time.

Task (stuff to do) division (breaking up of) it’s honestly as easy as that. Ideas flow back like your mind just drank a ton of prescription grade laxative.

And don’t worry, we’ve got something on the TVNZ brief now.

p.s. anyone notice Ben’s post was 39mins late on Monday?... deadlines huh


Wearing The Creative Briefs

An advertisement can be likened to one of those connect-the-dots pictures that I was doing the other day. Billboards, TV commercials, website banners and the like are simply the dots created by the creative team which form a wonderful picture which you, the consumers, are to fill in with your experiences and knowledge of the portrayed brand. While it’s blatantly obvious that it’s Papa Smurf picking flowers, I still needed to interact with the children’s book to see the true picture.

Ads (not Adds, remember this) are not only designed to sell the product like they were traditionally intended to do through means of demonstration and attractive images. Nowadays they’re selling the lifestyle, the feeling you get while consuming that product.

When was the last time you saw a car ad listing off the specifications? Only a handful of people care about that. You’re more likely to see a middle aged business man with the summer wind lashing at his full head of hair, sweet stunners and a hot babe with some massive mammary glands.

For the hopefully many of you who are interested in the many wonders of Advertising, I wanted to take a few moments to go over the creative brief. The creative brief is a set of instructions given to you by the people who want you to make an ad. You are given the power to design the blueprints in order for the job to be a success. The blueprints are then handed onto the production team who do all boring work, so you’re pretty much done.

Some briefs can be pages long, listing all sorts of shit which is there just to rage you up and others can be as short as a couple sentences long. Mostly they’ll leave you feeling like you’re stuck between The Rock and a Hardy boy.

The brief consists of stuff like details of the product, the competition, mandatory inclusions, consumer insight, previous advertising of the brand/product, the target market etcetera but most importantly the single minded proposition or the SMP. As it states, the single minded proposition is generally the entire brief summarised into a sentence.

The SMP of our PlanetFM assignment is simple, “PlanetFM speaks 47 languages fluently.” This is an example of what I feel is a crap SMP, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.

When given a brief you will often spark dozens of fantastic ideas that lead you to think you’ve hit the bulls eye straight off the bat. You will soon realise that your ideas are terrible and you should uninstall yourself. My art director Charles and I have spent countless hours pondering this brief; we’ve scrapped many ideas which we thought were amazing at first.

There was the idea of a caption written in multiple languages with words resembling English ones, and one of a super long flag blending 47 national flags into one; something that would be recognisable to speakers of all those languages.

We’ve since revised our entire strategy and we think we’re onto a full on double rainbow here, but I’m saving that for next week. Stay tuned for Hugh’s addition on Wednesday.