Bracing Shots of Creativity

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A shot of whiskey has a quick, potent and bracing effect on your body. But sometimes it’s not your body that needs a sudden boost, it’s your text, headlines and campaign themes. When they lack pizzazz, revitalize your imagination with these quick shots of creativity.

Use a snappy title. “Overcoming the Jitters” was the name of a report I once wrote about the uneasy relationship between private foundations and the media. The title caught on, and people were talking about “the Jitters report” for months in grantmaking circles. It became a recognizable brand of its own.

Try some wordplay. I bumped into this gem on the website of the American Association of Periodontology: “Love the Gums You’re With,” a slogan to encourage people to floss their teeth. It’s a groaner, but still awfully cute.

Go for an ironic twist. Have you noticed that one of the best ways to derail your detractors is to agree with them? That’s what happened when the Obama Administration embraced “Obamacare,” the Republicans’ derogatory term for the president’s health care reform plan. The administration’s move neutralized the term so much that it’s now practically part of standard American English.

Look through a different lens. The Alzheimer’s Association, California Southland Chapter in Los Angeles, saw donations go up when it ran a campaign featuring the poignant effects an elder’s Alzheimer’s Disease has on children in the family.

When all else fails, go back to the drawing board. But do it a few times. Sometimes you can get stuck trying to make what you have work. If you are getting nowhere with these fix-it strategies, try setting aside what you have. Start over with a blank screen or sheet of paper. Experiment with what you can create if you free your thinking from the existing pattern.

With this strategy, I push myself to write at least three new attempts just to dig deeper into what is possible. You’d be amazed how often this leads to a good answer.

What shots of creativity have worked for you?


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