Ah, the Deadline.
As someone who does double time as both a student and a creative I’m all too familiar it.
Honestly, you’d think that by now, I’d have figured out a bulletproof system, that I’d be the master of the “self imposed due date,” that I’d actually use my $60 personalized Erin Condren planner that I’ve decked out with all the proper accessories, or that I’d be a wizard with my $5 “to do list” app that I’ve synced with both my work computer and my personal computer.
Instead, due dates come at me like hurricanes. Just when I think I’m through them, I realize I’ve just been resting in the eye of the storm, and another series of them assail me as I scramble to get everything done as fast and as well as I can.
So naturally, when the Head of Client Services (aka, my former direct supervisor who has maybe, definitely watched me panic under pressure) sent me a “Being Creative on a Deadline” article with a knowing smiley face emoji, I couldn’t help but be a touch sheepish about it.
As the famous artist Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for Amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
But how do you just get to work?
This MarketingProfs article has some really nice suggestions, which include stepping away from your computer, surrounding yourself with personalities different from your own, and yes, even the simple, “take a risk!”
But as someone who’s spent the last year juggling two sets of deadlines, let me give you my, ahem, professional advice.
Just Do It.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you now. “What do you mean just Do It? I can’t think of anything. My mind is a blank canvas of glaring… blankness. That’s why I’m coming to you!”
Well, once you calm down and talk yourself out of that downward spiral, take that blank page and just start writing, or drawing, or whatever it is you do best. Throw anything your mind gives you on paper. Anything at all. Even if it’s kind of bad. I find that when I can’t write anything my best bet is to just write as much as possible, and I let someone else decide what’s worth keeping and what isn’t. And that’s always more productive than freaking out.
Have Someone Else Look At It
If I had a dime for every time I got a good grade on a project I swore I had failed, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, I’d be hanging out on a yacht near some private tropical island.
The fact of the matter is, sometimes it’s not that you’ve been staring at work too long, but rather that you’ve been staring at your work for too long. And you’re used to looking at your own work, so you’re convinced it’s terrible.
Give it to someone else. Let them tell you what they see. Maybe you don’t need to create a whole new thing — you just need to revise what you have. But you’ll never know until you ask.
Stop Trying To Reinvent the Wheel
Look, I’m not saying that you should just phone in all of your work, but nine out of ten times, the biggest creative block comes from the fact that people feel like every ad they create needs to go to Cannes.
It doesn’t. More importantly, it won’t. And the most effective work is often simple.
Do you honestly believe the creative team behind “Where’s The Beef?” was looking to win some fancy award when they came up with the classic campaign?
Heck, one of the most famous ads to come out of the 2000’s was a bad stock video with the obnoxious voiceover, “HEADON. APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD” repeated for 30 seconds. I’m not even sure if there was a “creative” team attached to that.
But the most important advice I have of all of this is to just stay calm. It’s easy to feel like deadlines are unsurmountable, unconquerable beasts. But believe me! You’ve gotten through them before and you’ll get through them again!
And if you don’t want to do it, then come to us, at Jeffery Scott. We’ll at least pretend deadlines don’t make us sweat—and then you won’t have to worry about it.