Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing without Limits

“Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

A friend of mine went to a creativity workshop in Europe (something I would die to do). When he returned, he told me all about his experience and what it taught him. What I got from all the activities that he told me about is that creativity can only blossom when all worry and doubt leaves your mind. The projects he worked on didn't have an outline or a purpose; they were just meant to set his thoughts free and see what wonderful art was hidden inside his brain. He told me about an activity where he just free wrote with his eyes closed. He wrote about whatever came to mind: sounds he heard, feelings he felt, etc. After that, he was instructed to circle the phrases or words that stood out to him and build a cohesive piece of work from there. An excellent exercise, if you ask me.

I haven't had a lot of time to focus on writing for fun (other than my blog) lately, but I do write all day, every day at work. I think there's room (and need) for creativity in marketing copy as much as there is in fiction writing. So, when I write a piece at work these days, I don't think about the outcome or purpose when I'm writing my first draft. After I've done an interview with a client or research on a topic, I just let whatever comes to mind spill onto the page. After that, I clean it up and polish and make the message come to life. Sometimes, there's a gem hiding in the writing that might not be right for the piece I'm working on at that moment but is worth filing away for another article. This exercise has helped me escape the boring outline that had started to hold me back after four months of writing similar projects. It's great to see art and creativity in my everyday work. I hope my co-workers and our clients appreciate it as I appreciate the process.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hold on or let go?

Tonight, I sold my car... and cried. This experience made me realize I have a hard time letting go. When I watched my old car drive away, I felt like I was watching a lot of things leave: memories with college friends, the hard work that it took to get the car, the pride I felt when I took it to my apartment.

I have an even harder time saying goodbye to people. Even when I know someone is bad for my well-being, I still keep them in my life because I can't let go of the good things (even if the good took place years ago). When people repeatedly let me down, I allow them to because letting go of them would be letting go of the feelings that I once had when I was around them and the memories that I share with that person.

What I have a hard time recognizing is that feelings and memories aren't tied to things and people. They're within me. Sometimes, there's a lesson to be learned, a feeling to be felt, and a memory to make and that's the end. Holding on any longer to the person or the thing can become harmful, whether it's bad for my emotional health or simply takes up space.

A lot has changed for me in the last few years and, as I embark on a marriage (a new life with someone), I have to realize that my fear of letting go of physical representations of feelings/memories will hurt more than just me. Therefore, my new goal is to remember that every phase of my life will have elements that I have to part with eventually.

No memories left with my car. The feelings I felt can't be taken away because a possession is no longer mine, just as memories with friends won't be gone simply because the person changes. Life is about moving forward and the best way to do that is to stop holding on and let go.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We're not all bad...

I read a blog article today titled "Why People Hate Marketers" and what it boiled down to is that marketers often don't see our community as a community; they see it as a group of prospects waiting to be converted and that we (marketers) often take advantage of emotions to sell things. In a way, that's true. Everyone's a potential customer and with the right marketing, we can make them one. But, if a prospect shouldn't be a customer, I (personally) would rather not see them converted.

I haven't been a marketer very long. Only about two years, in fact. Most of that time, I've spent as a marketing copywriter. And, in my marketing copy, I always do my best to be honest about who needs what I'm selling, honest about how to use what I'm selling, and I never ever lie to make more people interested. Marketing is (partially) about playing on emotions to get prospects to buy what you have to offer, but I would never want to do that dishonestly and never will. I always aim to convert prospects into happy customers, not into disappointed and financially-injured customers.

Recently, I've been working on selling my car (and actually did so today). I had a lot of people turn away from buying because I was honest about the car's downfalls, honest about what had happened to it in the past, and never tried to conceal something that might make the buyer unhappy. Did it take me longer than I wanted it to to sell the car? Yes. But, now, I have sold it to someone who is 100% happy with the purchase, feels completely informed and even said "I'm so glad I met you."

As a marketer, I do want to play on emotions to get people to buy my products. But, if their final emotion won't be satisfied, I'd rather them remain prospects. So, don't hate all marketers. Some of us really just want to see happy customers.