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Un-learning the Creative Process
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Let's say that you have your first broken light bulb. You examine the ceiling around it, the placeholder, the works. Then you unscrew the light bulb and see that it has blown out. The solution? You get a new light bulb. The next time a light doesn't work, your brain will more than likely skip the preliminary steps and automatically assume that the light blew out. And, more likely than not, your brain will be right.

Is that a problem? Not necessarily.

Our brains are designed to remember steps to fix a problem or to get to a solution. We think in patterns. If we see something that fits a pattern, our brains have the fantastic ability to let us know what comes next. "Why bother thinking about it?" your brain may suggest, "we already know the answer." When we familiarize ourselves with certain processes, our brain dedicates less power and energy to them, so it can preserve its thinking and analyses for bigger and more important activities.

Yes, the more we do things, the less we think about them. Have you ever driven somewhere, maybe a familiar road, and forgot how long you were driving? Your brain takes care of it.

Do we not see that in our industry? Do we not see our creative teams or management shift into "autodrive" during pitches, creative, or strategy meetings? It's human nature. It's bound to happen. The issue isn't making sure it never happens, it's fixing the problem when it does.

How can we un-learn our creative process?

Easier said than done. Here is where people say to change your environment, look at different sources of creativity, or engage in cross-sectional work groups. Yes, we've been known to say that ourselves. But does it really work? Would you not still use the information and process it the way you know?

Maybe another option would be to research and look up how others get their creative juices flowing. Strategies range from reading a book to writing whatever comes to mind to taking a walk. As for the actual process, what different ways can you do a pitch or respond to a RFP? To brands, what other ways can you deliver an RFP or a review? 

What thoughts does the BMA community have?

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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