By Poppy Cumming-Spain
It’s day eleven of a SCAB a day. There are many more days to go. I wrote three in a day before my punishment began, and two days in Marc released me from it. But I wasn’t done. I’d written five SCABs in three days, and I wanted to write more. So, I decided to carry on. A SCAB a day is a lot of words and ideas. I’m not sure if I can make it until the end of the school year, but I’m going to try. Better to try and fail, than to never have tried at all, right?
Today I hit a wall. Today, after eleven days, I don’t feel like I have anything much to say. So, I’m disappointed. Ideally, I’d have inspiration every day and something worth mentioning. In the first ten days, ideas came from nowhere and everywhere. Topics dropped into my head or stared me in the face. Dots connected themselves, and I just followed them. But today instead I’ve hit a wall. A classic case of writer’s block.
It’s disappointing but inevitable. We can’t all have great days every day. Sometimes the ideas just don’t come. It’s something I’ve come to expect and accept, but I worry that clients and agency bosses don’t have time for writer’s block. In this gig, time is money, and the money is theirs. We can’t spend weeks, months, years leaving our creativity to fester or waiting for it to appear. Our brains have to switch into gear on cue. Creativity can’t wait. Creativity can’t be late.
In some senses, I like this. The hourglass we’re funneled into (a metaphor taught to us by our wonderful strategy mentor Olly) gives some structure to an otherwise unstructured and intangible thing: creativity. When it’s personal, creativity is about freedom of expression. Proper artists can’t be tamed. They don’t fit into boxes or expectations. The burst out of and transcend them. That’s why advertising is interesting, at least I think so. Advertising puts pressure on creativity. It pushes creativity into a corner and forces it to bounce off certain stimuli. The hourglass gives us boundaries.
Having a SCAB a day to write is pushing me to reflect more often and more deeply than I ever have. It’s putting pressure on me, and I’m writing more than ever. It’s good. But I wonder if I should be worried that I didn’t feel like reflecting on much today. Maybe I can blame my hangover? But I think that would probably be a cop-out. Every day I have at least five hundred words to churn out. And, although I’m still reflecting on things I wrote about before, I don’t feel like I can write about them again. They’re in the back of my head, bobbing around, but I don’t think they should go on this page. It seems like a waste to go over and over the same things. Just as it’s a waste of time to cling to our babies, we have to release them, evaluate them, and kill them when necessary. We have to get them out. Once they’re out there in the world, there’s space for more to come. In theory, this could be the same for SCABs, unless you get a classic case of writer’s block as I have right now.
Today, I didn’t know what to write to write about in this SCAB. I sat here with my fingers suspended over the keys. I twiddled them in the air wondering what I could write about and why I didn’t know. So, I wrote a SCAB about that.