When Your Muse Strikes, Follow It.

I don’t know how Seth Godin does it. He writes and publishes a blog everyday, 365 days a year. I have trouble publishing my two blogs each WEEK!

Part of my problem is having something interesting to publish. That is every blogger’s nightmare. There have been times I write a blog the night before because I came up with an idea and just developed it.

When I’m in a pinch and nothing comes to mind, I try and change my focus. In a way, I let myself become distracted, not by merely doing something else but by switching creative gears and concentrating on another creative project.

It was where my muse wanted to take me, so I let it. What is a muse you might ask?

Muse, in Greco-Roman religion and mythology, any of a group of sister goddesses of obscure but ancient origin, the chief centre of whose cult was Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece. They were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus.

They probably were originally the patron goddesses of poets (who in early times were also musicians, providing their own accompaniments), although later their range was extended to include all liberal arts and sciences—hence, their connection with such institutions as the Museum (Mouseion, seat of the Muses) at Alexandria, Egypt. There were nine Muses as early as Homer’s Odyssey, and Homer invokes either a Muse or the Muses collectively from time to time.

Virgil (centre) holding a scroll with a quotation from the Aeneid, with the epic Muse (left) and the tragic Muse (right), Roman mosaic, 2nd–3rd century ad. Courtesy of the Musée Le Bardo, Tunis

As the creative juices begin to flow and my “new” project begins to take shape, I begin to develop several ideas that would make for interesting blog posts. I did, however, make sure I finished what I had previously started so I could “celebrate” the accomplishment (a musical slide show).

Whether or not you follow your instincts when you have a calling to do so, is up to you. Your mind and imagination are wondrous tools in the creative process. Don’t ignore them.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

Turning Gobbledygook Into Useful Garbage

Stumped. Writer’s Block. Stymied. Confused. It’s all a jumble of nothingness.

What Do You Write When You Don’t Know What to Write About?

So, how do you turn nothingness into somethingness? Start writing! Anything.

The words will come, thoughts will flow and, eventually, creativity will blossom.

You can’t force it, however. It must evolve naturally, at your own pace. Usually, if a creative suggestion doesn’t appear in your thoughts within about 20 minutes or so, abort the process and go on to something else. Then come back to it hours later or the following day.

Some writers think before they write. Some think as they write. Some writers don’t think at all; they just write a bunch of gobbledygook. That’s fine, as long as you go back and turn the gobbledygook into useful garbage.

Turning that garbage into something quite palpable and enticing will take a process of editing and refinement but when you’re at this stage, you’ve got it made.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

March Madness, er, uh, Quotes, That Is!

The quotations are as varied as the people who said them. Some you know, some you don’t. That’s what makes them interesting. From Burke to Burnett, Einstein to Degas; throw in a little Serling for seasoning and you’ve got a tasty recipe for March’s quotes.

 

We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures. — James E. Burke, Advertising Hall of Fame

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people — and he won’t do very well in advertising. — Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it? – Albert Einstein

If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything. – Alice Walker

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect. – Steven Wright

You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do to-day. Otherwise, working is just a waste of time. – Edgar Degas

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. — William Bernbach, Advertising Hall of Fame

How do we turn science fiction into fact? We do it by inventing our own future and figuring out the realistic steps that we need to make in order to get there. Dare to dream. Let your imagination leap. — David Shapton, Editor In Chief, RedShark Publications, 2012 to 2020

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

 

The Shadows: a Short Story of Ghastly Gatherings

Today is a different kind of blog post. I’m using it to introduce my newest piece of short story fiction. It took me a longer than expected amount of time to complete it, but I finally did. Hope you enjoy it!

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Welcome! This is a profile in the macabre. It’s a short story about a family who lived in the 19th Century. They lived a rather normal lifestyle back then, aside from a few setbacks in life. They’ve survived but not in the way you might expect.

Introducing the Graybeers: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan and Priscilla Graybeers, and their two children, Tony and Stephanie, ages 14 and 16, respectively, at the time of death. Tony was shot in the head while Stephanie was downed by an ax. Back in 1862.

Mr. and Mrs. Graybeers committed suicide, each at the other’s hands. In 1863, following a tumultuous year of mental anguish over the loss of their children. It seems mental illness takes its toll.

Looking back, they were a typical northeastern suburban family, college educated, upper middle class, sports-minded.

In present day, they’re like most other families of similar ilk except for one thing: they can disappear. Oh, yes, one other thing: they don’t really have human form; they’re not ghosts, they’re shadows from their former life. They even live in a mansion called The Shadows, which is near a cemetery.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-cemetary-by-jaroslav-gebr.jpg
The Cemetery by Jaroslav Gebr

Aside from select social occasions, the family rarely leaves the Shadows. The mansion has been in their family for centuries. And the location next to the cemetery has always been a family favorite, so no one has ever thought of selling the property.

Although on rare occasions, an unwitting realtor will appear at the door only to be “greeted” by Mr. Graybeers himself. But being a shadow, he really can’t be seen so the realtor leaves his card and walks away, seemingly unaffected by the opening and closing of the door — by itself.

Continue reading

To Quote is to Speak, to Listen, to Learn!

The subject matter may vary. The speaker may vary. The quote may still be memorable no matter who says it. Keep that in mind when reciting any one of the quotes below. It will make for a memorable occasion.

 

Advertising becomes a dialogue that becomes an invitation to a relationship. — Lester Wunderman, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Thinking about ourselves isn’t related to knowing ourselves. — Lauren Esposito, arachnologist, co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists

Nothing comes merely by thinking about it. — John Wanamaker, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Regardless of the moral issue, dishonesty in advertising has proved very unprofitable. — Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Attract attention, maintain interest, create desire and get action. — E. Elmo St. Lewis, member, Advertising Hall of Fame


Rules are for people who don’t know what to do. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

I don’t like closed doors. Creativity flourishes best in an environment of open doors and open minds. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

Obsession with Productivity Can Kill Creativity.

Don’t Let It Kill Yours!

How would a “productive day” compare to a “creative day”? What would, if anything, they have in common? Chances are not much.  One might think a productive day would be closely aligned with scratching off items on a to-do list. On the other hand, someone’s idea of a creative day might not even have a to-do list. 475px-The_Scream

Our current work world is obsessed with productivity. We are inundated with books, articles, white papers, to time block this and time block that; all just to do more work. But our relentless quest to be productive is undermining one of the most important abilities in today’s workplace: creativity.

What of the future, though? Will machine learning and artificial intelligence perform the routine aspects of our work at the expense of our ingenuity and creativity? So how do we create the right conditions for creativity, particularly when we are trying to deal with a to-do list?

Consider this comment from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (the mastermind behind the television show West Wing and films like Moneyball and The Social Network). He told The Hollywood Reporter that he takes six showers a day. “I’m not a germaphobe,” he explains but when his writing isn’t going well, he’ll shower, change into new clothes, and start again.

Sorkin’s trade relies on him minting something fresh on a regular basis. And it occurred to him that his best thoughts were not happening in moments of fevered concentration, but when he was in the shower. So he had a shower installed in the corner of his office and makes regular use of it. He has described the process as “a do-over” for triggering original ideas.

In 1939, James Webb Young, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, wrote a definitive guide to the process of creativity, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this short book, Webb Young reminds us, “that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” In his view, the skill of creativity is the ability to spot new connections between familiar thoughts, and the art is “the ability to see [new] relationships.”

Fifty years later, Steve Jobs observed something similar: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Webb Young also lays out a remarkably simple technique for creative thought. It involves stimulation. Continue reading

Some More Quotes

As it has been about a month or so since we last published some quotes, we thought it timely to publish some news ones. Like before, it contains quotes from various acclaimed individuals from the worlds of advertising, philosophy, science, literature and education. So, go ahead and immerse yourself in creativity – intelligence having fun!

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.— Alex Osborne, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. – Albert Einstein

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything. – George Lois

If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. – Henry David Thoreau

Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. – Isaac Asimov

An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it. — William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy, and I actually think people understand that creativity is important – they just don’t understand what it is. – Ken Robinson
 
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. – Ken Robinson
 
I believe this passionately: that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it. – Ken Robinson
 
Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. – Ken Robinson

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog,Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Creativity Guidelines as Presented to the Baton Rouge Ad Club

Because some of you won’t be able to make my presentation tomorrow to the Baton Rouge Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, I thought I might include some of the tips I’ll give to the group in this blog post.

Regardless of how you may be involved in this industry, we all share in the design and development of our own creativity. These tips will hopefully sharpen your current set of skills so that you’ll be better equipped to address challenges as they arise.

Enjoy your dip in the pool of creative tips!


 Always think of yourself as creative! If in doubt, think of this: If you can challenge your own imagination and
stimulate thoughts leading you to a new level of solution, you’ll be realizing your own sense of creativity.

 

Creativity needs to be synonymous with “FUN!”

 

Don’t manage creativity; manage FOR creativity. Provide an environment that is open and
receptive to new ideas. Acknowledge error or failure in a constructive and supportive way, build
it into your culture as part of the process; don’t ridicule it; honor and embrace it.

Consider adopting the “suckless mentality” – When presented with something that doesn’t quite
measure up, say something to the effect of “Gee, that really sucks. However, if your tried this or
that, it might suck less.”

 

Chief Marketing Officers must have creativity in themselves, for the good of the business and
their own teams. “Creativity as a weapon of business is under-leveraged not for lack of ideas, but
for lack of courage to use them or refusal to give up on them. The phrase, ‘We don’t have time for
creativity,’ is not something you would ever hear in the most successful businesses,” says Mark-hans
Richer, former Sr. VP-CMO Harley-Davidson.

 

Trying to satisfy everybody never got anybody anywhere. Focus on what’s important, then do it.

 

The strategy must be clear, concise and on target. Your message is going to be screwed up if the
creative is too cute, too complex, doesn’t follow strategy or is just plain dumb.

 

Don’t let the execution bury the idea. The computer and software are just tools to enhance the
idea, not to compete with, replace, or screw it up. Use your own computer – your brain.

 

Take time to think. There’s always more than one way to do something. That’s creativity!

 

Do not bring a DEAD CAT without a shovel! In other words, never present a problem without
bringing the shovel – at least two possible solutions. In doing so, you save time if one of these
solutions is the one adopted, and you can share your creative thinking while learning more about
what’s important to your boss; remember, you may not know all there is to know.

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Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog,Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

A Dozen Tips to Enhance Your Creativity

• Creativity needs to be synonymous with “FUN!”

• Idea Tub – can be a physical place or thing and/or an electronic file. It’s a compilation of all ideas
ever submitted since you started keeping track, but organized as to be readily accessible.

An elaborate Idea Tub

• Don’t let the execution bury the idea. Your message will be diluted and possibly even confusing if
the creative is too cute, too complex or just plain dumb. Think napkin, not computer.

• Realize your own sense of creativity by challenging your imagination and stimulate thoughts to lead
yourself to a new level of solution.

• The idea, for best results, should be media and discipline neutral. Otherwise, you limit yourself.

• Focus on how you’re going to make the idea work and be relevant. But, never fall in love with it.

• Don’t ever underestimate the power of the mind or your imagination. Don’t ever be afraid to ask,
“Why, Why not or What if . . .?”.

• Ye Olde Creativity Survival Kit — Any sort of container in which you place whatever makes you
FEEL creative and THINK creatively. In this industry, silly is sometimes serious business.

• Thinking at Warp Speed – Generating ideas at breakneck speed is a great way to capture ideas on
Post-it Notes (one per note) in answering a specific question to solve a problem. Remember Giant
Post-its for your “idea wall” which can foster brainstorming and open-door policy idea addition.

• Drill Down Technique – Discovering THE idea. In this unusual method choose your five best ideas
and ELIMINATE THEM, choose five more and ELIMINATE THEM. The last idea Post-it may or
may not be the best, but it’s one to which you normally would not have paid much attention. Go play.

• As ideas are developed, make sure their essence is refined. Make sure your ideas are clear and
you can explain their basic value in about 20 seconds. If you can’t explain it to an 8-year old so they’ll understand it, you need to refine your idea more.

• Don’t manage creativity; manage for creativity. Provide an environment that is open and receptive
to new ideas, and that builds failure into the process. Acknowledge error or failure in a constructive
and supportive way.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Death Resides in an Upstairs Room

Sometimes death takes on different forms for different people. This is a tale about one of those times.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. — Author Unknown

Excuse me a moment. Believe someone’s at the door.

(Hears knocking.) Hmmm, sounds like from upstairs but I don’t have an upstairs.

(Door sounds, squeakily opens.)

“Pam?” I ask. No response.

“Pam?” I ask again. 

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” she intones.

“I hear your voice but can’t see you. If this is what I think it is, I can’t come up there now. It’s not yet my time,” I say.

Then slowly I hear a squeaky door closing. 

“Pam?”, I ask. No response. Then again; nothing.

Then, faintly, as if In the distance, I hear a door close.

I stand there, frozen and jarred by the experience.

News Bulletin from the Interdimensional News Agency:

Did this really happen? Does life exist that close to another dimension? Does just a door we cannot see separate us from the hereafter? Who knows!

Perhaps in the Twilight Zone it does, but this is not the TZ. Or is it?

Perhaps it’s simply a page-turn at the chapter’s end in the multidimensional book of life and death.

“Pam? . . . Pam?”. . . Fade to black . . .

That was over a year ago and nothing like that has reoccurred. I think back on that evening from time to time wondering if it did, in fact, happen or was I just dreaming.

This particular evening was quiet and I found myself curled up in my easy chair with a good book. I had just come to a stopping point and started to head off to bed when I heard what I thought was a very squeaky door slowly opening. Thinking to myself it came from next door, I went off to bed.

“Joe?” the voice intoned in what was more like a low whisper.

“Joe?” the voice asked again.

I froze. I just stood there, saying and doing nothing.

“Who’s there?,” I asked, not really expecting a reply.

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” the voice replied softly.

Not again, I thought. This can’t be happening.

“Joe?,” said the voice again. “Please come up and join me. I miss you!” she said .

Playing along, I said “Who is this and what do you want?”

“It’s me, Pam. Please join me upstairs.”

“I don’t have an upstairs and you can’t be Pam. My wife died over a year ago,” I said.

“If this is some sort of sick, perverted joke, I don’t appreciate it!,” I stressed.

“It’s no joke, Joe,” the voice said softly. “It is me, Pam, and you do have an upstairs, just not like you know it to be.”

Then, for some strange reason, I turned around and looked back toward the living room and kitchen area. There was a cloud-like haze inside the apartment, almost like a cloud had seeped inside hugging just below the ceiling.

I heard what sounded like a door slowly rocking back and forth on its hinges. I stood there in awe of what I thought I saw.

What was this sight I was seeing. Could it be an actual cloud? No, that’s impossible, I thought. Another dimension?

Then the voice again, “Joe, come join me. I miss you.” This time the voice was much clearer and louder, but not yelling. “There’s a room that’s been made ready for you. It’s right next to mine. Won’t you please join us?” she asked.

“Us?” I said. “Who’s us,” I asked.

No answer. Silence. Utter stillness.

Yet, the “cloud” remained. Was it an entrance to another dimension? Was this voice talking and beckoning to me really Pam? I didn’t know. I just know that during this time the hairs on the back of my heard were still at attention and I was quite uneasy.

Meanwhile, that slow rhythmical squeaking of a door rocking back and forth on its hinges was the only sound I heard.

Until I didn’t. Then the door closed shut, rather startlingly.

“Pam? . . . Pam?” I called out.

Silence.

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