All of my “non-creative” friends (or maybe I should say “creatively-impaired” friends) all think I have the best job in the world. “You get paid to sit around, drink coffee and be creative!!??” is the most commonly used statement/question. Granted, I do sit most of the day, I do drink a LOT of coffee and I do get to be creative, but, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Anyone who’s ever worked at an advertising agency, graphic house or recording studio can vouch for me when I say – it really is hard work!!! It’s more of a “mental sweat” than a physical labour, but rest assured, by the end of the day, you’re exhausted.
Overcoming Creative Block
Being the one always on call to come up with the next “big idea” can be extremely draining especially when that expectation comes day after day. So how do I do it? Simple. I surround myself with a team of creative geniuses. No, I don’t mean literally. I don’t have an entourage of “arty” types following me around waiting to bounce ideas off of. But what I do have, is a rolodex filled with people I can call on when I find myself in a creative slump (which is more often than you might think).
I have one guy in particular that I call my “idea man.” His name is Rob and he’s the guy I call when I’m literally jammed up and can’t think of any new ideas. He’ll show up in his vintage leather jacket, unkept and groggy and then once he’s had enough coffee – he’ll open up his little black book and start spewing out ideas. Some genius, some terrible. The point is – he comes with ideas!! Ideas that I didn’t have in the first place. Does it frustrate me that I’m not the one who came up with the idea? No! Maybe …. sometimes.
Since we’re being honest, there actually was a day when my pride told me not to let anyone else contribute to the project because then I’d have to share the credit with them. Then I grew up …. and quickly realized the benefits of working in team. I was able to have more projects on the go at any one time. The projects themselves started to “look and feel” differently and my clients appreciated the creative diversity. As my team expanded, I was able to venture into all sorts of other media that I could have never done on my own. And last but not least, it was just way more fun having other people to collaborate with! You can only laugh at your own jokes for so long until it just becomes sad. You need other people around to help keep things balanced. It’s a scientific fact!
We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses (hopefully they are different than those you’ve chosen to be on your team). So instead of letting the project suffer, why not tap into the strengths of others around you and make that project the absolute best it can be? Collaboration is truly the best kind of workflow and one of the best ways of overcoming creative block,. In the words of Ken Blanchard,
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”
Sure you can probably pull off the entire Radio campaign yourself. No doubt you’ve got what it takes to write, shoot, act, direct and edit that TV commercial you’ve been contracted to do. But why? Why put all of that on yourself when there are clearly other people who can help you achieve a better end product? Not only does collaboration help save you time, but as I said earlier, you’ll more than likely come out with better results and you’re client will thank you! I know way too many businesses and “industry types” who will compromise creative quality just so they can push through projects faster and collect more paycheques. No thank you! I personally don’t want a reputation like that and not because I’m afraid of making money, but because it attracts a certain “type of client.” You’ll quickly become known around town as the “cheap-down-and-dirty-graphic-designer” and the only type of client you’ll end up acquiring is the client who likes their invoices – cheap!
So the next time you find yourself overcoming creative block and needing a little push – do yourself a favor and call a “creative friend.” You’ll be glad that you did!