Clear head, clean copy

Apparently because I like to torture myself, I went to another social gathering (Friday) morning. I am now trying to write this furiously between actually being productive, because I know if I don’t, the thoughts will be lost forever, and I’ll know I’ll have had something that seemed like a good thought, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.

First — I really need to work on multi-tasking. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so used to using a voice recorder for interviews, but I find that I have a really hard time concentrating on what someone is saying if it’s also an event where, for instance, tweeting is encouraged. Someone will say something great, and I’ll go to share it on Twitter, and then have lost the next three minutes of the actual presentation itself because apparently I can’t tweet and pay attention at the same time. Some days it’s OK, other days I really can’t do both for the life of me. And that’s a bad thing.

Oh, by the way — the event I was at Friday was Creative Mornings Edmonton, the first one ever here. I want to say both that I didn’t really know what to expect, and it wasn’t what I expected. And I know how opposite that is. What I did really like, personally, as someone who’s still really trying to figure out what does and doesn’t work for her, professionally, is to hear someone else say, “OK, this is what I did, and how I perceive myself in my job.” And usually, hearing things like that just make me go, “Thank goodness. I’m not the only one who thinks that.”

The topic was creative process, but before I get into that, one more thing to note: even in the short time I’ve been … involved … with Edmonton’s online community, I’ve noticed it’s the same people at all the events. It was really surprising to only see really one or two familiar faces at the first Creative Mornings which initially had me worried that if I was in the right place and maybe misunderstood the topic and that it wouldn’t apply to me, but even though it wasn’t really what I expected (if I was expecting anything), I’m still glad I went, probably most for the “oh, it isn’t only me,” reassurance. (Also, apparently it was most of the creatives and designers in Edmonton who were at that event, which I thought was cool, because again, I have never seen most of them.)

The video’s not up yet, but here’s the main page of Creative Mornings — Edmonton is at the bottom. Eventually the video of Michael’s talk should be up there, not sure when though.

The creative anarchy took me awhile to wrap my head around, but I think I understand. Basically, just because it doesn’t look like I’m doing anything, i.e., not “technically” working, but instead reading blog posts, doing “random” Google searches, doesn’t mean I’m not working. I call it “playing,” which I guess still isn’t a good term, but I’m testing limits of what I can do, what works for my audience, how they react to a message when it’s presented in a certain medium, etc. And sometimes, the only way I’m going to get to those discoveries is through “creative anarchy,” doing things when it doesn’t look like I’m working, but really, I’ve figuring out what has and hasn’t worked before, and what has and hasn’t been done.

The talk is 20 minutes and then there’s a 20-minute discussion, and it turned into, “What is your creative process?” Which, like I said earlier, is great for me. Because sometimes I’ll borrow from what someone else has tried and works for them, to see if it works for me. A lot of people say that they free write, or always have a notebook nearby when inspiration strikes.

The thing for me is, sometimes I’ll have something kicking around in my head; it might be the size of a tweet, it might be much longer. But sometimes, I can’t write other, good copy until that thought is out of my head and on paper. Even if I delete it later, at least I saw how it looked on paper, and I can move on with the tasks I actual need to focus on. If I wasn’t so attached to this new thing of being able to sleep in until 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, I might do what one guy said he does — hand writes three pages every morning, just to get all the lurking thoughts out of his head, and start his day each day with a clear head. Maybe I’ll try it on weekends and see how it goes.

One more thing: Michael used images from Kurt Vonnegut to illustrate his presentation, which reminded me of a quote that used to hang over an old editor’s desk, and I could have sworn was attributed to Vonnegut, but is apparently David Halberstam quoting Julius Erving, and I just haven’t thought of it in awhile, but I love the sentiment: “Being a professional is doing your job (doing the things you love to do) even on the days you don’t feel like doing it.”

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