Wednesday, 10 October 2018

My secret creative helper. Moira Butterfield

I’ve been carrying inspiration round in my bag recently. It’s in the form of a conveniently small bright yellow book with the title Hegarty on Creativity – There are No Rules, published by Thames and Hudson.

It’s written by advertising guru John Hegarty and it gets to the nub of creative thinking very well, in a series of easily-digested pieces of advice. Opening it up at random and glancing at it is a great help to me when I find myself staring at a blank page. It reminds me what I’m doing and why. The book stresses that there are no rules for being creative, but there are helpful ways of thinking.

The author is incisive and practical but also passionate about creativity, and it shines through. I would buy it for any young person setting out on a creative career.

Conveniently bag-sized powerhouse of creative advice 

A few of the many practical thoughts from Mr Hegarty include:

Be fearless. That way you will get ideas that are fresh and brilliant, not following a formula.

A brainstorming session with other people is a waste of time for the truly creative person, because you will do your best thinking when you’re not trying too hard to think.

Get out more often. Look around you. The more interesting the inputs you are open to, the more interesting your output will be. That means staying alert to new ideas, places and people.

Read the best. See the best. Talent rubs off. Hegarty suggests that since more people visit art galleries and museums than football matches in the UK, that might be why our creative economy is doing well but we haven’t won the World Cup since 1966. For myself, I make a point of going out to bookshops and admiring those children’s books that others have created.

Cynicism is the death of creativity. Creativity is a positive force, a force for good, and it challenges us to change. It should encourage, enthuse and engage. Being cynical will infect your ability to create, so surround yourself with positivity and possibility. I think is is particularly good advice for anyone who has been in their profession a long time, when they might have seen a fair bit to be cynical about. It's important to keep the feeling under control. 

Good is the enemy of great. More often than not, coming up with a great idea means veering here and there on the way, and it’s all too easy to settle on something that feels OK but isn’t best. Take a step back from what feels good and think ‘but is it great?’. I have to think of this good advice regularly, as I tend to get very excited about plans for a new project and send material off too soon. With a little more time, project plans can become much better.  I'm a bit of a 'rarin' to go' character and need to reign it in sometimes. 

I write ever day and I’m always coming up with new ideas to illuminate the world for children. I earn my living this way, and it can be hard to feel enthused sometimes, so thanks to John Hegarty for being a cheerleader. I’ll keep this little yellow powerhouse in my bag.

Moira Butterfield's latest book is Welcome To Our World. A Celebration of Children Everywhere. Published by Nosy Crow. A new Lonely Planet City Trails book on Barcelona is published in October.
Twitter: #moiraworld
Instagram. #moirabutterfieldauthor


Lynne Garner said...

Thanks Moira - I'll add that to my shopping list. I've got a copy of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas' by James Webb Young. Although first published in 1965 and aimed at the advertising world I found it very useful in helping me come up with ideas.

Stewart Ross said...

Ordered it. Many thanks. Looks useful for my students as well as myself.

Lynne Benton said...

Sounds great, Moira. I've just ordered it too! Thanks.

Rowena House said...

A great endorsement, Moira. Thank you for the recommendation. Cynicism often a benefit when I've got my journalistic hat on, but you're so right: it is a disaster in terms of creative writing. Here's to rediscovering a joy in words!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Sounds great! I have a son in the Ad world and I'm always energised after a visit from him. He sees the world so differently. Some great points here! Thank you... love yr comment – " I tend to get very excited about plans for a new project and send material off too soon. With a little more time, project plans can become much better. I'm a bit of a 'rarin' to go' character and need to reign it in sometimes." That's me summed up perfectly!!!!