This is how you can fuel your imagination

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Isn’t it hard to think of an idea when you need it the most? Do you often find it difficult to think of a new concept? Have you ever wondered how can one think of an idea in a second? Well, creative gurus have, over the years, learnt the trick from their experience. But not everyone needs to wait that long. In their book, Creative Aerobics – Fueling Imagination in the 21st century, writers Linda Conway Correll George and Arpan Yagnik have provided some techniques  (with practice exercises) which, if practiced, can help anyone become creative. Although the book is written keeping in mind the advertising aspirants or professionals, the methodology specified can be used by anyone. Below are excerpt from the book. Read on…

Training for Your Creativity Marathon

The purpose of learning CA (Creative Aerobics) is to discover how to come up with fresh, unconventional ideas that will cut through the clutter of Internet information overload. So often when advertising a product, it’s easy to misinterpret information as the idea. And while information can fuel an idea, it is no substitute for one.

You’ll begin the learning process by expressing your idea in the form of an advertising headline. It’s your creative conduit. But before you can write a headline, you need to have a product to write it about… we’ll make the product selection: a ball- point pen. What brand? Let’s not put the shopping cart before the horse. First, you must learn how to write about ballpoint pens before you can write about a Scripto, Waterman, Paper Mate, Bic, and so on.

For Starters: Where to Begin

Where to begin? Why, on the Internet, of course. You need to find out as much information as you can about ballpoints. So google ‘ballpoint pens’.

When were they invented? Who invented them? Why were they invented? Where and when was the patent filed? What’s the difference between oil-based ballpoints and rollerball pens? What ballpoint pen is in The Museum of Modern Art in New York City? How much does a ballpoint pen cost? How much does it weigh? Besides writing, to what other uses have ballpoint pens been put? How many components are there to a ballpoint pen? What year was it that they were introduced?

Exercise:

What other questions do you want to ask about ballpoint pens? Try asking out-of-the-ordinary questions: Who was the first president of the United States to use one? What do athletes and celebrities use to sign autographs? If you were to measure the amount of writing liquid in a ballpoint pen by drawing a line until it ran out of ink, how long would that line be?

Add your own questions to this list and look up the answers.

Creative  Aerobic  1  (CA1)— The  Facts.  Just  the  Facts

If you researched answers to the questions in the previous chapter, you have a start on a list of facts about the ballpoint pen.

Besides your secondary research, you can also make a list of primary discovery observations about a specific ballpoint. So grab one, study it, and write down what you find—your facts list. How long is the pen in inches? What color is it? Is it a rollerball pen or oil-based pen? Don’t limit your observations to sight. How does it feel in your hand? Is there any scent to the ink? When you’re writing with it, does the pen make a sound, or is it silent?

The third list of facts about the pen contains your experiences with it. When did you receive your first pen? How did it make you feel? Grown up? Did you ever use it to write on something you shouldn’t? Your bedroom wall? Did you chew the end of it when you were taking notes or an exam? What did you use it for outside of school?

The fourth list is a list of expressions you know that contain the word ‘pen’ or words or events associated with it: The pen is mightier than the sword; put your John Hancock on it; signing of the Declaration of Independence; a celebrity signature; can graffiti be done with a pen?

And the fifth list is observations from your friends and relatives. Ask them what they use ballpoint pens for: Do your mom, dad, husband or wife make their grocery list with a ballpoint pen? Does your boss keep a notebook of the miles he/she travels for work, written in ballpoint pen? How important is a ballpoint pen in their lives? What do they like/dislike about ballpoint pens?

Can you think of any more facts or observations?

Sidebar 3

Creative Aerobic 1: ‘Facts’ About the Ballpoint Pen to Look Up

The ballpoint pen was invented in (DATE). (NAME) invented the ballpoint pen.
It was invented in Argentina.
Artists who have used pens in their art include Andy Warhol, (NAMES).
Ballpoint pens cost USD 9.75 in 1945 when they were introduced to New Yorkers.

Creative Aerobic 1: List of Observations About My Ballpoint Pen

My ballpoint is five inches long with the tip extended. It is red.
The ink is black.
A list of all the things you can write with a ballpoint pen.
Add your own questions to this list and look up the answers.

Exercise:

Do you feel you know enough about ballpoint pens now to begin to write headlines about them? Before you begin writing headlines, make sure you have three lists of facts about them: a list of facts you found in secondary research — looking facts up on the Internet; a list of facts you found from observations of a pen you held in your hand and inspected in detail— make sure you used your five senses; and a list you need to make — a list of your experiences with a pen.

YOU MAY LIKE TO READ: Nine ways to create new ideas

The first part of Creative Aerobic 1 — the introduction of a fact about the product — is fairly straightforward. Turning to the list of facts about ballpoint pens, let’s research an artist who used them in producing fine art.

In the 1950s, expressionist Andy Warhol did a series of shoe illustrations in ballpoint; also, his ‘Reclining Male Torso’ uses the medium.

Doing a little more research, we can determine the price of a pen in the 1950s—that’s when the Parker Pen Company introduced the Jotter long-writing pen for USD 2.95. So we now have a fact about the ballpoint pen:

Fact: Andy Warhol used a USD2.95 ballpoint pen to create drawings.

We can continue leveraging other facts to create the foundation for more headlines.

Fact: Ballpoint pens were first manufactured in Argentina in 1943.

You learned more facts about ballpoint pens when you filled in Sidebar 3 — facts most likely unknown to the average consumer. Interest, generated by their unfamiliarity, may draw in readers on that basis alone.

The goal of a headline is to be interruptive; to attract the reader’s attention; and to draw him/her into the body copy to find out more about the advertised product/service/assignment. The goal of the headline twist is to reward the consumer (for reading the headline) with a desired/desirable context. But what is the point that the fact is trying to make? What information about the ballpoint pen is it charged with delivering? And also the twist?

Let’s examine the fact about Andy Warhol drawing with a ballpoint pen. It’s not a fact generally known about the artist. Nor is the fact that quality ballpoint pens cost USD 2.95 then. Warhol may have been a starving artist once, who could only afford pennies for his art supplies. But the price of some of his art today is selling for more than USD 100 million. It’s priceless!

Packaging that in a headline, we have:

Headline: (fact) Suppose Andy Warhol had used our USD 2.95 ballpoint pen to create this drawing. (Twist) Priceless!

Once we have the facts, it’s relatively easy to turn them into headlines. Ready to try?

Courtesy: Creative Aerobics – Fueling Imagination in the 21st Century, written by Linda Conway Correll George, Former Professor, Penn State University, USA, and Arpan Yagnik, Assistant Professor, Advertising, Penn State University, USA
2017/ 180 pages/ Paperback: Rs 395 (9789386446824)/ SAGE Response
The chapters have been reproduced with the permission of the publisher.

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