Here’s a little piece I did for Waste Management recently.
Funny story, dumpster rentals are up.
"I have to practice every single day to be as bad as I am."
Woody Allen on playing the clarinet in this NYT article: Is Music the Key to Success?
"The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas."
Three Ways to Improve
A few days ago I finally admitted it. I sat down in my boss’s office, and told her:
“Everyday I come in to work, and you know what I’ve realized? I’m learning just how little I know.”
She looked at me and said, “Oh I know how little you know, but that’s okay.”
And she gave me these three pieces of advice.
Just mow the lawn.
When you get an assignment, Taylor, it’s like you see this huge backyard and have been told to mow it. And you immediately look at the edges, how raggedy they are, and you look at the weeds, and you think “This is impossible. There’s just so much to do.” But instead of doing that, just grab the mower, and start pushing it. Just go up, and then come back. And do it again. And again. And again. Until the lawn in mowed. The only way to get something done is to hunker down, grab the mower, and start pushing.
Get to a calm space.
For you, sitting at your desk with your computer, and people talking to you, or near you, is like a two year-old walking into a Chuck-E-Cheese. There’s lights, and noise, and excitement, all of which could be distracting and intimidating. Well, if that’s the case, just turn face, and get to a calmer space. If you’re going to be distracted, don’t sit at your desk. Leave your computer, grab a pen and paper, and head to a conference room.
Make do with what you’ve got.
Most assignments are like the scene in Apollo 13 where the astronauts are most certainly going to die. You’ll never have “enough” of what you think you need to complete the job, so just take stock of what you’ve got. What do you have to work with? Does it look like a sock, a hose, and a roll of duct tape? Well, then get busy. Be creative, be clever, and make something.
Great article last week in the Wall Street Journal about The Weather Channel. Check it out: The Weather Channel Now Also Forecasts What You’ll Buy
[Above: Spec Ad for The Weather Channel. Our concept was with TWC you’re covered.]
Celebrating #GirlPowerBOS with this throwback from the The Foran Affair Portfolio.
"If I can’t come up with an idea in 2-3 hours, I know I don’t understand the problem."
Ogilvy’s Copywriting Tips
April 19, 1955
Dear Mr. Calt:
On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:
1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.
2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.
3. I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.
4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
"Write Hot, Edit Cold"
This post’s title comes from advice that Luke Sullivan gives in his influential Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. What follows comes from an interview one of my greatest influences, Steve Martin, did with NPR in which they discuss the same idea (read the full interview here):
MARTIN: Well, you know, I don’t write unless I’m ready. So usually I find if you’re in the zone, you usually like what you’ve written. And if I’m not in the zone, I generally don’t write, I will edit at that point, using the - what we call the monkey mind.
GROSS: What do you mean?
MARTIN: Somebody gave that to me years ago, it was like the monkey mind was - you know, there is your creative mind, and then there is your monkey mind, and your monkey mind was really consciousness. You know, and the monkey mind should do the editing. It’s the one that’s not original. It’s the one that’s imitative. And that’s just, you know, a term for doing the slave work of writing.
You Have to Earn an Ending, You Don’t Just Fall Into One.
Yesterday was the Final Critique for my Concepting class.Three months after the start of this insane journey, the disparate fluids of our creative juices, along with the sweat, tears, and for some blood (an X-acto knife can be a real bitch, as one girl discovered) all coalesced in this one sweet moment in the Bob Hope Lobby.Yesterday was the first big moment for fifteen ugly ducklings with dreams of swandom. We presented our work to, and received feedback from three Creatives from local shops in Dallas.
While all of this was utterly new, I couldn’t help but feel that I had, indeed, been here before. And then I realized it: yes, in fact, I had. As mentioned before on this blog, I wrestled in high school, and what I experienced yesterday, even sans spandex, was quite nearly the same thing that I had done on grimy mats in years past.
In a wrestling dual meet, a team matches its best fourteen athletes against the best the other team can offer. While there is constant action, only two people are engaged in competition at any time. For everyone else, it’s the calm before (or after) the storm. When your name is called, you strap on your headgear, and give it your best for six minutes hoping you can pin the other guy in less time.
And such was the scene yesterday. In a tour de force lasting three and a half hours, the creative product of 15 minds revealed itself on 180 pieces of mounted paper. And then it was my turn.
I tried my best to economize my words, giving at most two sentences to each of my three campaigns. They critiqued the work, and we moved to the next presentation. I tussled in the ring for five minutes.
When the day was over, I had won the award for best copywriter, but just like when I wrestled, no award could produce the exhilaration of being back in the ring, having the feeling that there’s no “coulda’s” now: I am a contender. Yet the most acute reminder of those high school days was the dreadful pang of hunger I had after the presentation. It is the type of hunger that food cannot allay. It’s the hunger to suit up, and do it all again.
"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading the the most outré results, it would make all fiction with its conventions and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable."
A Case of Identity, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as Sherlock Holmes
"Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling."
I am a fanatic music lover. I can’t live one day without hearing music, playing it, studying it, or thinking about i. And all this is quite apart from my professional role as a musician; I am a fan, a committed member of the musical public. And in this role (which I presume is not too different from yours) in this role of simple music lover, I confess, freely, though unhappily, that at this moment, as of this writing, God forgive me, I have far more pleasure in following the musical adventures of Simon and Garfunkel […] than I have in most what is being written by now by the whole community of “avant-garde” composers.”