The Greeks called it their Muse.
The Romans called it the Ingenium (the genius).
I call it whatever that magic is that gets some meaningful words onto the page.
I recently heard a great re-air of a RadioLab interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. In it, she tells the story of poet Robert Frost working on a particularly lengthy and draining piece for weeks and weeks and weeks. He finally finished the thing, completely dissatisfied, even though he’d put so much effort into it. Sigh. After all that. Nevertheless, Frost woke up the next morning, and sat down to write…
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”
(Arguably one of the most well-known poems of the 20th century… No joke, it was last night’s Final Jeopardy! question.)
It was as if Frost was being rewarded for his hard work, Gilbert says.
Sometimes that’s how the creative process works. Sometimes it really does feel like 99 percent perspiration to get that golden 1 percent of inspiration — and as Gilbert says, that’s pretty generous. Sometimes there is no other explanation for a creative idea than a little bit of magic.
I do believe that part of knowing yourself and your team is learning how to really stir up that magic — knowing what inspires you to make X happen.
For me, it’s exercise.
(“No duh, Erin,” says everybody I work with at Elliance.)
But really. I’ve come back from my lunch-hour runs ready to start entire publications. I’ve run through the door and frantically written down ideas, busting out headlines one after another.
Call it endorphins. Call it magic. Whatever it is, it works.
I’m also inspired by really great comedy. Laughing at pure, honest and intelligent wit can bring out the best writer in me — even when I’m working on something not meant to be funny.
The idea of one exclusive “creative department” in a marketing agency kind of blows my mind — because I think that would qualify all of Elliance. We would all be the creative department. Every one of us gets inspired to do our work here — whether it’s exploring information architecture or diving into data muck or working with clients or creating an infographic. We’re all making stuff happen. We’re all creative.
And this was ever more apparent to me when my colleagues’ answers to two emailed questions I sent began to come in.
“What gets you doing your best work?” I asked, “What inspires you?”
There’s more where this came from. Follow along #EllianceInspires to read more every week.