One of the many things that sets The Creative Shootout apart from other awards ceremonies is that you have a mere 60 seconds for your entry to grab the judges. The teams also have 4 hours to work on the brief in real-time.
What I love about this is that it goes hand-in-hand with my argument that creativity doesn’t always have to be a long and drawn-out affair. It should be part of everyday thinking, not just something that happens in a meeting room on demand. Of course sometimes you’re going to want a good chunk of time – the creative strategy for next big Coke campaign is not that likely to start on the back of an envelope (though you never know!) – but a quick ‘n’ dirty approach is far more practical on a daily basis.
Lack of time is often cited as a barrier to creativity, but here are 6 ways every day that you can get to grips with a creative problem that’s been vexing you using time as a useful constraint…
- Daft as a brush
If you’ve an electric toothbrush, you’ve exactly two minutes to sort out your gnashers before the buzzer goes off – that’s just enough time to try and think of a truly ludicrous, left-field approach to your creative problem, the madder the better. All you have to do now is sleep on it….
- Letter to the unconscious mind
This is a way to deliberately ‘plant’ a request for information into your unconscious mind and is a famous ad agency Creative Director trick. Just write yourself a note before you go to bed.
“Dear me, I am dealing with problem X. I’d really like an answer to this chewy challenge by 9am tomorrow morning, just after breakfast….” Be as specific as you can about the problem (just as if you were briefing another person) and the time you want it solved by. Tuck the note under your pillow and head off to the land of nod. Sound bonkers? Maybe, but just think of all the times you’ve had that great idea in the shower, or whilst driving or walking. This way you are being deliberate about your directing your mind and allowing for incubation time. I know a prolific TV creative who swears by this and always gets answers. What’s the worst that could happen?
- Real-world creativity – what would he do?
You’re on the tube or bus and you’re surrounded by people – so look around you and see what that bloke in the long grey coat would do to fix your problem. Or those teenage girls sharing an iPod. Putting yourself into different shoes will definitely change your perspective, and there’s no better place to see your customers than the real world. Think of an idea for 5 different people you encounter on your morning commute. And not a minute spent in a meeting room.
- Pass the egg-timer
There’s a popular kids’ game called Pass The Bomb: you need to come up with a word before the bomb ‘goes off’. While panic-inducing time-limits can turn some people to jelly, it can also force you to think in a totally different way, so assemble the team, buy an egg-timer, set it to three minutes and try and come up with something useful before… ah, bugger, it’s gone off. Short bursts can often be fruitful, particularly if you switch the topic up in between rather than just waiting for the muse to arrive.
- Walk this way
On the trudge to the bus-stop or tube station on the way home you will doubtless pass a few dozen shops – what would you do for the product you’re wrestling with if you could hijack one for 24 hours? What are your product’s most instantly-appealing attributes? How could you get a queue forming around the block?
See our Creative Safari for ways to make walking part of your creative routine.
As you sit down to watch the 10 o’clock news, imagine Big Ben chiming in with your very own headline; the ultimate front-page blurb for the brand you’re working on. Maybe it’s ‘New aftershave causes mass fainting episode in London’ or something similar. What would turn your product from mundane to mass-coverage? A journalist just this week told me that at journalism college they were told to think of the headline in terms of shouting at people in the street and getting their attention. What do you want people to pay attention to?
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This blog originally appeared on The Creative Shootout website.