I recently got this comment on the blog from Rick.

I was going to answer it, but it occurred to me there might be a better way.

Most of these questions are about analysing creativity.

How it works, how do you encourage it, develop it, train it?

Most of the people who read this blog are creative.

So, instead of just getting my opinion, it might be good to get lots of different points of view.

How would other people answer this?


We’ve all heard how creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration (but is it? or is that just a nice bit of word play? what if it’s actually 30% inspiration?).

But I think ‘perspiration’ is the simple bit.

Simple in the way that running is simple and gymnastics isn’t.

“Just do it”, in marketing speak.

You can get that from watching Rocky: just try harder, just punch harder, work on your right, just get up.

But was Rocky creative?

The 1% that’s ‘magic’ – why do people avoid analysing that?

How can you learn to become more creative, rather than discipline yourself to become more tenacious and pragmatic?

Everyone and anyone can have a good idea, but creativity is surely the learned skill of having good ideas consistently and on demand?

CDs don’t just look for hard workers, do they?

Is everyone a great idea generator innately, but the difference is in how hard they work?

Or – out of lots of hard workers – can some people train themselves to have better ideas?

I thought your case study of Mike was quite inspirational.

I like his idea and I can see how it was powerful and appropriate.

But I’m not sure his example teaches us how to develop creativity.

That’s what I was trying to get at.

Mike is an artist – you’ve primed us to believe he’s creative already – and when he tries hard and the conditions are right, guess what?, he has a great idea.

I guess the point I’ve been trying to make is that you yourself, Dave, are the case study we can learn more about creativity from.

What’s your take on abductive reasoning?

Is NLP useful?

I wonder if we might tempt you to tell us a little about how you’ve trained your mind to be more creative over your very impressive career, perhaps in a forthcoming blog post?

Do you train your creatives at all, beyond ‘on the job’ training?

Have you designed any exercises to develop creative thought processes?

And if so, could you give an example and some of your thinking behind it?”

When I was a copywriter I trained up a couple of junior writers and art directors, but I was relying mostly on old briefs and hunches.

I didn’t have much theory until maybe six years in, when I started reading people like Stephen Pinker and Susan Greenfield.

The idea of the mind as software running on the brain’s hardware, and the idea that education, culture, experience and memes can ‘reprogramme’ the mind linked quite neatly with many of the tools I was using as a writer to persuade audiences.

So I wonder what your take on minds, creativity and training is?

Pinker et al are academics, while you’re actually at the front line of this stuff – so I think your perspective would be incredibly interesting.”