everything I said could be totally wrong

Posted on by Laura Hamlyn

I've worked in advertising since 1993. A layperson (my Aunt) generally thinks my work is about magically finding that silver bullet that sells something. And shows like Celebrity Apprentice push that perception by asking B-listers to spend 24 hours creating a great "slogan" that will sell suntan lotion or steaks.

The lesson I've had to learn over the years is there is no magic bullet. My best ideas haven't come easily or instantly. They've incubated, baked, kicked and screamed and hidden in the back of a dark closet. That's why I tend to gravitate towards statements like "everything I said could be totally wrong."

I was lead to the title of this post by a tweet from Daniel Pink, a man dedicated to helping us understand the way we work today. He referenced the Manifesto Project website which includes some pretty deep thinking from Mike Mills. I particularly like this thinking from Mike:

+ Everything I said could be totally wrong.
+ Everything is transient. Everything is a process not an object.

If more people knew this truth about creativity, it might scare them to death--especially clients who have a lot riding on results and outcomes. But if we embrace it, it just might take us to another level of creativity.

I recently read an article called "The Power of Uncertainty" on Behance's 99% website that covered the same territory, and it made me a little uncomfortable:

Be comfortable “working in ambiguity.” The key to true creative problem solving is the ability to work in ambiguity – to explore the full range of possibilities without jumping to conclusions. The poet John Keats praised Shakespeare for this trait, which he called “negative capability.” As Keats defines it, negative capability “is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, [and] doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” In short, we must feel comfortable moving forward without always knowing exactly where we are headed.

As writers, designers and art directors, it's not our job to know. We really don't know. We just spend a lot of time trying to, and in the process we find some amazing solutions. But I could be totally wrong.