Creativity Amidst Chaos

Gawd. It's deafening.

On blogs and news feeds and pod casts and even the printed page(!), all I hear is the relentless drumbeat of The Next Big Media Thing. Every day, it seems, brings another dire prognostication of the demise of Medium A or an unprecedented technological breakthrough spawning Channel Z. Drones! Virtual Reality! AI! I'm half expecting an alert announcing the clairvoyant medium (see what I did there, clairvoyant medium?).

Don't get me wrong, I'm as excited as the next person about what the future holds. Usually when things crack open like this, the eventual outcome is a Better World, at least for advertisers. But, amidst the chaos, I find myself asking this question:


How do those of us charged with the creative quest avoid getting swallowed up, overwhelmed by the technological tidal wave - of letting the medium become the message (apologies to Mr. McLuhan)? Will the demand to gin up multiple messages to serve myriad media dilute the creative product, turn it into mere manufacturing?

Well, if you let it. I prefer to look at it this way: more ways to deliver a killer idea. Truth is, the fundamental principals behind commercial creativity are still, well, fundamental. A few things to keep in mind as we wend our way through this Brave New World.

1. Ideas are (still) more important than ads. Now more than ever. If you've got a good idea by the throat, it'll work anywhere, on any screen, in any application.

2. Avoid the Tech Trap. A quick scan of any current industry rag is likely to boggle your mind with data and graphs and acronyms. Don't get too wrapped up in/freaked out by the latest breakthroughs and predictions. Don't be distracted by the shiny object. Keep focused on the creative process.

3. Bask in your humanness. It may be the one thing computers will never be able to do as well. You're not a machine, you're not even an engineer. And that's awesome. The essence of what we do still comes down to pen on paper (figuratively at least) and the terrifying black hole of the creative process, with all its attendant self-doubt and -loathing. It's fun being imperfect!

4. Get Creative About Creative. Let the swirling chaos stimulate those idea-generating ions. Nothing begets creative thinking like stimulus. And you've got to admit, these days, there's no shortage of stimulus. Used to have to rely on liquor and drugs. Now it's zeros and ones. (Cheaper, and no hangover.)

So, let the start-up brainiacs make the big bucks and drive up Palo Alto real estate prices with obscene overbuilds. You've got something that they need. A way to communicate, persuade, and actually transact business. Step away from the phone, take a break from the season 4 binge. Grab your notebook and a freaking pencil, go sit someplace interesting, and don't leave until you've got an idea or two. There's a brave new world out there. And it's looking for something to eat.