Just because they call them creative pursuits…
Today’s Art Month guest post is by Paul Santo of Santo Creative, a copywriter extraordinaire, and, as you’ll see, a multi-talented creative guy.
I write for d.trio, but that’s just one of my creative pursuits. I enjoy playing classical and blues guitar, piano, and turning storm-fall trees into beautiful bowls, goblets and toys. Apart from my professional life as a writer and creative director, though, more people seem to know me for my nature photography than for any other reason.
Capturing a great nature photo is not so different from writing a winning headline or creating a breakthrough marketing concept.
Sometimes it’s an accident, but typically not. When I shoot nature, I usually set out intentionally, camera in hand, to capture something amazing. When I create concepts or copy, I set out to do it intentionally, with pencil or keyboard. The reality, though, is that when I start, I never know exactly what I’m going to get.
One thing is certain – the more frantically I chase, the harder it is to succeed. For me, the best strategy is to do my homework, know my subject, master my tools, then wait patiently for amazing to creep up on me.
Any nature photographer will tell you that you have to embrace the waiting. When you’re quiet and calm in nature, that’s when you find that extraordinary things are all around you.
It’s the same with writing and concepting. Advertising and marketing are rush-rush businesses. The deadlines are constant and relentless. The pressure can be enormous, especially when multiple beloved clients have simultaneous “emergencies.” It’s a business that chews up and spits out those who can’t perform under pressure, those who can’t seemingly create on demand.
After more than 25 years and thousands of projects, I still get stressed out by deadlines…but not like I used to. That’s because I don’t focus on the deadlines. No good can come of that. I focus on the process, the “active waiting.”
I won’t ever allow myself to sit and fret in front of blank Microsoft Word* document. I move. I scribble. I walk. I write anything and everything, no matter how stupid, irreverent or off-target it might be. I even take photos of the birds outside my office window.
By removing the pressure, enjoying the waiting and embracing experimentation, I put myself in a place where creating is joyful. Like when I shoot photos, I’m perfectly willing to try 100 different ways and throw out 97 without regret. If my first 20 headlines don’t seem just right, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed so far. It means I’m getting limber, putting myself in a position to succeed.
Creativity is like a muscle. It performs better with exercise. That’s an important lesson, whether you’re shooting a photo of a baby loon or being creative on demand, project after project, year after year.