When you think of creative professionals, what do you think of? Probably someone pacing around and then having an idea, in a glorious “Aha!” moment.
That’s flashy and showy and makes for great TV (or a great TikTok). But it’s not how the best work gets made.
In fact, this myth hurts more than it helps. Too many newbies think that’s how it’s done. You sit at your desk and “think of a good idea,” good meaning clever and witty (if you’re a writer) or aesthetically pleasing to your own hipster sensibility (if you’re a designer).
Not a chance.
How we spend most of our time, and if you do it for a living you already know this, would be really boring to show on TV. It’s homework, otherwise known as research.
Of course, no one wants to tune into a half hour of someone doing homework. That would be the most boring TV show ever. But that’s what we do.
It’s the valuable questions that arise during the course of this research that often form the germ of an idea. But you have to be open to them, so when you think of them, you welcome them rather than dismissing them.
- Why is a product selling well to Group A, but not to Group B?
- Why do customers spend a bunch of money to subscribe the first time, but don’t renew?
- Why is the key unique value prop being ignored, but the product is #1 because people like the font on the label?
Discover the answers to questions like these, and your next campaign will almost write itself. When you ask them in meetings, you’ll usually get a blank stare followed by “Can I get back to you?” from your stakeholder. That’s how you know you’re on the right track.
Being a creative professional, particularly a writer, is a lot like being a detective. You pore over the evidence for weeks, and then the answer becomes obvious “overnight.”
But poring over evidence, and asking questions, isn’t sexy. It’s the opposite.
That’s why we get paid to do what we do.