Monday, July 18, 2011

If you can't think of anything to write, write about that.

       The name I gave this site has the potential of adding a shovelful to my stress level. Daily? Does that include weekends?

       What if I can't think of anything to write about? What if I feel lazy, or tired, or cranky and don't want to write? What if I write and it comes out gnarly?

        It happens. But it's all really a metaphor for working for a living. Whether we work for an ad agency, or a retail chain, or a couturier, and there's something due today, no excuses will excuse.

       "Where's the work? This is it? What else have you got?"

       When I first was promoted to associate creative director, I was worried. What if my group let me down? What if they didn't do something good? Or anything, period? Shouldn't I have something of my own in reserve, just in case? For three months I did, although I never let on. My safety net was in my top left-hand drawer.

       It was rarely needed. When you work full-time to support yourself, something serious comes over you. You become more self-disciplined. You know you have to do a good job. Or else.

       Or else there are ten more people to take your place.

       Over the years, I've had a lot of interesting people work for me. The writer who never, ever, came back from lunch, but always left a note on his door telling us what bar he'd be at if he were needed. The art director who always came back from lunch even though I told him not to. (One Thursday afternoon he threw all the agency's potted plants down the elevator shaft.) The guy who always had thirty ideas for every assignment, but could never decide which one was any good.

        There was the writer who cut off her partner's new tie because he wouldn't do the storyboard the way she wanted. And the one who cried at meetings every time the client rejected one of her ideas. (He couldn't take the guilt and changed agencies.)

       It takes all types. But the best creative people --- the ones who do the funniest, craziest, most mind-changing commercials --- always find a way to meet the deadlines, attend the meetings, and always act respectfully.

       Jerry Della Femina, one of the real heroes of the "Mad Men" era, said advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I agree. But you have to love it or leave it.

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