By Miranda di Carcaci
Though common lore tells us that you can neither be too rich, nor to thin, I found myself in a conundrum. Sitting on my laptop, the virtual page spread out before me, I was so rich in subject matter that, suddenly, inexplicably, I had become thin on ideas. This has always seemed to me one of the great conundrums of creativity. Why is it that, occasionally, the most terrifying words a Creative can hear are: ‘Just do it on anything!’.
I mean, I’m pretty sure that’s the point of being a Creative, isn’t it? To take a blank sheet of paper, which no doubt once used to be a vital throbbing part of the Amazonian eco system, and imbue it with such brilliance, that anyone lucky enough to read it will immediately declare: ‘I never much cared for orangutans anyway’ or ‘why do we even need more than one kind of frog?’ And yet here we are. With no work which merits defiling the rainforest, or even slightly polluting a local river.
In a roundabout way this has lead me to question on what makes creativity thrive the most. Is it an open road, or a closed door? Should Creatives in advertising, or indeed any discipline be left to roam unfettered through the fields of their imagination? Or caged, and made to perform tricks like the Seaworld Orcas, until one day it all becomes too much, and they bite the arm off some well meaning trainer attempting to coax them into waving at the audience? I would argue the latter. Or at the very least a combination.
The first time it struck me that there was more to creativity that creating a direct line between every thought in my head and the tip of a pen was thanks to Dylan Thomas. Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night is one of his most famous poems. And rightly so. Written to his father as he lay on his deathbed, its passionate intensity has been rarely matched in the poetry I have read. But it is far from unrestrained. In fact, Thomas chose one of the strictest, meanest, fixed poetry forms to write in, the Villanelle*. Why would he choose a medieval poetry structure, previously used to tell the stories of country maids and lustful shepherds, to express his inner most pain? Perhaps he stumbled upon a truth while writing: sometimes emotion caged is creativity set free. To truly rage, rage, against the dying of the light, you need a starting point leap from.
‘But what does this have to do with selling washing up liquid?’ I hear you ask. Well readers, you must remember that we are still in Ad Land, and I believe the truth still remains. Rather than dreaming of carte blanche to sooth your creative woes, look instead to the rules of the product, brand or person you are trying to present and use them to your advantage. Sometimes it’s better to draw within the lines if you are using bold colours.
*I won’t bore you with details you can look up, but there are only two rhyme sounds allowed and certain lines have to be repeated in a certain order.