There’s an old adage, sometimes attributed to Ernest Hemingway, that goes, “write drunk, edit sober”. At the risk of sounding a little un-PC, I think there’s something in that for marketers and other storytellers.
I’ve often written my best copy late at night outside of work hours. Sometimes the most creative tag lines pop into my head while I’m out running in the hills, or pondering life while in the shower. It’s very rare for a killer tagline to strike me while sitting at a desk wracking my brains and trying to think of the perfect marketing message.
When it comes to a creative pursuit like writing, it’s important to be in the right frame of mind. What’s “right” will be different for different people – booze may have been the catalyst for Hemmingway, while yoga or running might do it for you – but the point is that creativity sometimes requires us to take a step back from trying to solve a problem directly.
If you’ve got the flexibility to do it, scheduling different jobs at different times of day, based on your usual energy levels and frame of mind, can provide a significant productivity boost, not to mention improve the quality of the final product.
Pick your time
One mistake I’ve often made is to try to write articles during a period of downtime, when I otherwise would not be productive.
In the past, that might have meant writing an article on the plane while flying to Wellington or developing a marketing plan while riding as a passenger on a long drive.
While this approach has sometimes helped me get the job done, it isn’t always the most enjoyable or time-efficient way to do things, when you consider total hours spent.
In most cases, I would have been better off tackling article writing first thing in the morning, when I’m feeling most energised, and then to do my accounts and answer emails during those times when I’m a bit less motivated and need a mental break.
There’s a lesson in that for those who want to improve their efficiency, and perhaps also for people who want to enjoy their work a little more. I’m not suggesting you keep a bottle of whisky in the top drawer of your desk, but the odd mini-break from the work environment to relax and unwind might have the surprising effect of helping you get more done.
And remember that while creativity is vital to help come up with a great idea, focus is critical to avoid mistakes during execution.
Much in the same way alcohol can convince you your dance moves are enough to rival 1990s boy bands, it might also convince you your rambling, typo-ridden prose is a work of literary genius.
Publishing an article or posting to your business Facebook account is certainly something that requires sober reflection. That is, unless you want to go viral as one of those horrible misspelling memes. Funny, yes, but perhaps not the best look for your business.