I have been on Twitter 7 years and 2 months. I joined twitter because so many of my then clients where tweeting. Interestingly many of those early advocates are either no longer on twitter or only tweet sporadically. Such a change from their early zeal. My first tweet was unsurprising more of a broadcast. Hey, I was finding my way. Since then I have tweeted almost 20,000 tweets. Twitter trends have come and gone as have a number of followers. Still there are things that annoy about twitter. Actually not about twitter just the way some people use twitter. So here are my five thoughts this week. In short they are the five most likely reasons I will unfollow you.
You insist on telling me your twitter stats, daily, weekly and monthly (I don’t care). I realise this is an automated service you have signed up to. I admit the stats the service offers can be very helpful but I cannot understand what is to be gained by you telling me you are looking forward to reading my tweets, have gained x followers today, this week, this month. There may be some strategy to using these type of tweets but I struggle to see what it is. You are indeed visible. Annoyingly visible.
You are still using paper.li Seriously does anyone ever read these curated piles of….. The only reason anyone opens one of these links is because they are mentioned. Ego and hubris are might drivers on twitter.
You post links to websites I cannot read. Mainly to paywalled news sites. It so frustrating to see and link you might want to read and find you cannot read it unless you subscribe. Not frustrated enough it has to be said to sign up. Fortunately some tweeters let you know it is to a paywalled site. Saves me a click at least.
You never engage with anyone. Not even a RT or a like for anyone or anything. All you do is tweet your own message, usually buy my stuff. I can only imagine that somewhere, someone believes this is the correct way to “do” social media. More likely they have convinced some fee paying client or their bosses that this twitter thing really works, look I have tweeted 100 times today.
You have been a bit quiet on twitter lately and the way you decide to remedy this is by tweeting link after link to various websites. Sometimes not even different ones.
If you ever find me doing these things then feel free to unfollow me immediately but don’t tell anyone it’ll be our secret.
On most of my online biographies you will see me described as a “creative”. There are, of course, those who would say creative is a verb and not a noun. You can be creative, you can be a creative. I describe myself as a creative because I create in video form. I pursue a life of creativity, which sounds unbelievably pompous. I did though begin to think about what it means to be creative and what does it mean when people ask you to “surprise us, be creative”.
Creative Carte Blanch. When a client gives you an open brief and asks you to be creative and surprise almost certainly that is not what they want you to do. Go ahead, create something completely out of left field and see their reaction. It probably won’t be the one you were hoping for. Coming up with something completely new does not mean abandoning their, no doubt hard won, brand recognition. It’s about being creative within what is already known and exists.
Creativity is not plucked out of thin air. No doubt somebody somewhere has been hit with the metaphorical lightening bolt of inspiration. Coming up with an idea that has truly never been done before. I think that scenario is as rare as hens teeth. People who are really creative are those who are immersed in creativity in general and the creativity of their chosen discipline in particular. If you want to be a good writer you must read, to be a good film maker you need to watch the masters of the art at work. No creativity takes place in or emerges from a vacuum.
One person’s creativity is another shrug of the shoulders. True, there are some objective criteria on which something could be judged but generally we respond subjectively. “Do I like it” or in the words of ex England manager Graham Taylor, “Do I not like that.” If some people do like your effort or indeed hate it, it does not mean what you have created is without merit. Just not to them at that moment.
No one has a monopoly on creativity. I describe myself as a creative but there are people for whom creative is a job title. “I’m the chief creative at XYZ Agency”. Having a creative does not mean other people can’t be creative because they can. There are some people who would be quick to say they haven’t a creative bone in their body. It might not be their prime skill but they can still have creative thoughts. People say they could never write a book because they have no imagination. Yet millions of people every week construct an elaborate story of wealth, super cars, large houses and holidays every week. Only to see it dashed as soon as they checked heir lottery ticket.
Creativity is never easy. Brilliant ideas emerge from the battlefield of creative hit and miss.
I think just about every profession goes through a creative block at some time or other. That feeling when you don’t seem to be able to do anything.
Often called writer’s block but it affects artists of all kinds, indeed anyone who is trying to create something. It might be a book or a blog, a painting or a sculpture, a new concept or a different way of working. All of us in one way or another have reached that point when no matter what we do the page, canvas, notebook or screen remains stubbornly empty. So here are my five five thoughts.
Keep a storeroom. Always seek inspiration from others. Reading, watching, listening and recording are, in my opinion, essential to creativity. Keep a notebook, scrapbook or online gallery of things that have inspired you or made you think or you just liked. When barren times come wandering around this storeroom will, I promise, spark your creativity. You will find stuff you had long forgotten, dusty and neglected that will trigger new thinking. If you are not already doing this start today, it may be a while before you see the benefit but it will help. This blog would not have been written without visiting my storeroom.
Try a bit of demolition. Any task can seem daunting and overwhelming. Being overwhelmed is not good for the creative juices. So break the project down. Find elements you can do right away. Start with small bricks and soon you will have a wall and eventually a temple. I might have pushed that metaphor a touch to far but you get the idea. War and Peace starts with one word, then one sentence.
Get on with it. Work anyway. What stifles most creativity is the screwing up of paper and throwing it in the bin. Whether metaphorically or in reality. Get some stuff done, it might be utter rubbish but you will have done something and once you get over that hurdle you’ll be surprised how ideas start to flow. Keep everything and then come back to it. It might be days, weeks or even years later. Some of it will still be crap but there will be others things you find are actually little gems.
Listen to music. The theologian Karl Barth said he did his best work to Mozart. Music can lift the spirits, get the blood pumping and inspire you. Play something that lifts your spirit and if you can play it loudly.
Realise great work comes from great struggle. There are times when things just flow. You can barely keep up with the creativity coursing through your brain. Hey, savour the good times but don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t come quite so easily. Sometimes it is the struggle that makes it all worthwhile.