Tag: creativity

Bored of it all, that’s probably a good thing


Image source: Dpaki.com

Image source: Dpaki.com

No, we’re not talking about politics, it’s about creativity and learning that boredom is a good thing and can lead to fantastic results if you allow yourself the luxury and time to just sit and think, or not as the case may be.

Let me explain.

On Wednesday, Lauren Child was named Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate. As the author of many children’s books, some of her most famous starring the now televised Charlie and Lola, it may come as no surprise that she received the prestigious title, but what made the story all the more compelling was her comments.

Lauren explained during an interview on BBC breakfast that parents shouldn’t try to engage and entertain their children all of the time and that they should be allowed to get bored. Giving some context she said that children when they are bored are at their most creative because it gives their imagination chance to create stories.

Makes perfect sense.

This got me thinking – somewhat like a child perhaps – that as adults we should do the same. We spend all of our time trying to meet deadlines, reading emails, sending emails, on the phone, conference calls, skype… it’s relentless, but is it the best use of our time?   

We all strive to do the best but perhaps sometimes we need to stop, just stop, and let our minds wander.

Working in a creative industry you would think that we do this a lot, but we don’t. We have deadlines to meet and as well as journalist requests we have schedules of activity for clients that we need to fulfil. Sitting around and looking into space is not on the agenda – but perhaps it should be.

I’m not one for wasting time – far from it – but if I thought that we could come up with better and more creative ideas by letting our minds wander every now and then, I would certainly be an advocate.

Then there’s the next generation of talent to think about. They have been brought up in a society that relies on the internet, on phones, on knowing that you can ask a device for information and it will be with you in seconds. How creative, or rather how bored, have they ever been allowed to be?

It’s a real worry to think that young people don’t make up stories, have adventures and sit along to play like we once did. They have apps and iPads that ‘fill’ a space and keep them entertained. They are spoilt by engagement and we don’t even realise what negative impact we could be having on them.

Lauren comments: “Looking out of the window and letting your mind float and suddenly you will see the most amazingly funny thing that will turn into a brilliant idea.”

I found that statement so powerful. I can completely resonate with her words. There are times when I feel like I’m up against a brick wall, I just can’t make a story work, so I will take a walk and get away from my desk, give myself the time to think it through, come back and I’ve got it.

Being bored isn’t a bad thing, it’s a great thing and I think we should all learn to embrace it and to put some imagination back into our lives, both at work and at home.  

Are we stifling creativity with processes?

We were recently invited to a Mi Networking event in Leeds and decided that as the focus was about innovations in technology we would go along and see what it was all about. Honestly expecting to hear about the advancements in social media (again) and how it’s imperative to ‘engage’ and ‘share’ with your audience, we were pleasantly surprised to be confronted by Dave Birss.

In order to give you some background, Dave is a creative but that doesn’t really do him justice. He has worked for some of the world’s largest agencies and has written books and created websites and apps more or less in some instances because he could. They are funny, quirky, interesting and in most cases useful – well other than ‘are you an asshat’.

What made him different was his enthusiasm for genuine creativity – not pretty pictures or the latest App that delivers very little but you can watch in 3D! – but real life examples of pushing the boundaries beyond brand.

During the session Dave focused on taking education and creating inspiration. He explained that creativity is stifled with process and I’m inclined to agree. We all get so caught up in systems, processes and procedures that we think in a linear way, without even recognising that we are doing it. This was lesson one for me!

He then went on to explain that if your creative idea doesn’t make a real difference you need to change the way that you are thinking – which is exactly what he did. He shocked me a little by announcing that not every brand needs social media. I thought I was pretty alone with this school of thought but apparently not. He, like me, feels that it’s more important to identify with the consumer behaviours of a product or service before jumping on a bandwagon and that traditional mediums can still deliver excellent results and jaw dropping impact.

Dave kept coming back to the same thing time and time again with the examples that he was showing – ideas, ideas and more ideas. He shared some websites, which some of you may be familiar with but I certainly wasn’t – Kickstarter as an example. This is a site which allows you to showcase an idea in a bid to generate funding. Those who like the idea will purchase the product in order to allow you to invest further in its development. What an amazing concept.

Then there was his thoughts on how in order to create truly integrated campaigns all of the technologies need to work together. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Dave wasn’t suggesting you make a design work across platforms or look pretty on an iPhone but that one concept, creative or theme was used across platforms and performed in a different way to add value to the user. So you could have one campaign with multi-purpose depending on what platform the consumer chose to use. Brilliant!

A lot of what Dave said made perfect sense, although it became frighteningly apparent that his passion for technology goes well beyond that of most people when he started to show individuals who are linking their nervous systems to computers and implanting chips in their bodies to create additional senses – hmmm, I’ll leave that one for now thanks.

As a result of the session we were buzzing and although a lot of what Dave said would fit into the ‘oh, of course’ category, it was a real pleasure to watch and learn about technology from the perspective of a true creative.

For more details about Dave Birss visit:   http://userguidetothecreativemind.com/davebirss/index.html

So thank you Mi Network for inviting us to this event. It was a great opportunity to take some time out and get back to what we are good at; getting excited over ideas, proposals and the brands we work with.

Putting pen to paper

There have been a number of news articles recently about the launch of campaigns which are encouraging children to write. I remember when I was at school I found it really difficult to read out loud in class but loved to write my own stories down – one teacher claiming it was because I had an over active imagination but I prefer to think of it as my creative spark coming through at an early age!

I think that there should be more campaigns encouraging children to create their own short stories. Chris Evans has recently launched the Radio 2, 500 words competition which is a fantastic concept and with celebrities including Richard Hammond and Jacqueline Wilson involved, it is all the more exciting for those who enter.

I can’t help thinking that it’s a shame that many of these stories will be written on a computer. I have nothing against technology but think there is something extra special about a handwritten story drafted and illustrated by a child. Something you can put up on your fridge or keep in a scrap book forever.

When we were little and the weather was terrible our Mum used to put us on the kitchen table with pens, pencils, paints and coloured paper and tell us to come up with stories that we could then illustrate. More often than not I would sit for hours thinking about the plot and what would happen before carefully decorating my masterpiece with first class imagery (more of a mess but I thought I was the next Tony Heart in those days!).

Since the huge success of JK Rowling with her Harry Potter books and EL James with 50 Shades of Grey there has certainly been a notable increase in the number of adults wanting to turn to literacy and write books. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing and that people get to the point where they want to do something different and writing seems like a viable option or if it’s suddenly seen as the next best thing to a lottery ticket.

Either way I think it’s great that people are using their imaginations to bring their own tales to life on paper and I do wonder whether it matters if your stories are published or just for your own amusement.

I remember once reading about a young girl who had been tragically killed in a car accident. When her mother was clearing out her things she came across a book of poems she didn’t know she had. All of them had been hand written by the young girl. Needless to say the book became a priceless treasure and the poems by all accounts were excellent if not heart wrenching under the circumstances.

I would never say never when it comes to considering writing a book but am very aware of the time and commitment it would take, as well as the skill that would be required to write a novel that people would want to read, which is kind of the point if you want to be a best seller!

Nope, I think I’ll leave it to the professionals for now but I will definitely be tuning in and listening to those written by the children who enter the 500 word competition. I’m sure they will put any ideas that I have had to shame. You never know there may even be the next best seller amongst them.