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#Writing Tip: How bird calls and ‘Sirenia serenity’ can improve your writing

I Wanna Be Creative!

James Bond Birds

One of the best things about my visit to Sirenia Retreat (on assignment to write about and describe the experience) was closing my eyes and listening to the birds. This is something I am usually too busy to do.

I’m still trying to work out exactly why the sound of birds helped the flow of my writing – but I have some ‘early theories’.

1. Tuning the senses before writing – especially using a different sense – hearing.
Most days, I mainly use my eyes – reading, reading, reading, and doing to tasks that require vision – work reading on a computer, house chores, driving etc. My eyes get tired. It was a refreshing change to close my eyes and actively use my hearing to pick out the many different bird calls and ‘pin point’ where different calls were coming from. At Sirenia, I seemed to lose any sense of…

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#Creativity tip to get some satisfaction – record your ideas WHEN you get them

I Wanna Be Creative!

Have you ever wondered how many great songs DO NOT get written? How many great creative ideas DO NOT ever happen? How many great business ideas evaporate?

Satisfaction

Creative and talented types are often good at thinking up great lyrics or riffs or ideas – but many ideas are like big, beautiful ideas that briefly flit before your eyes and then disappear – never to be seen again.

I’m always encouraged by the Keith Richards story about the riff for Satisfaction. Apparently, Keith knew his talent AND his limitations.

He got into the habit of taking recording devices with him – even on the road.

When he’d get an idea – he’d capture it.

Keith Richards

The story is that he came up with the Satisfaction riff – recorded it – then “went off to sleep”.

When he woke up he couldn’t remember the riff – but he remembered that he had…

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The advertising power of positive association – Cool Bananas!

A song on the radio made me smile as I drove my kids to school this morning.
It was actually a jingle “Cool Banana, Motorama” and the name of the company is still in my head – in a good way. That’s the power of the power of simple rhyme and the positive connotation of music.

Cool Banana Motorama BANANA

The simple rhyme was ‘Cool banana, Motorama’ and the music (to me) suggested a song by The Wiggles “Hot Potato, Hot Potato”. The Wiggles song brings me happy memories of when my kids were at the age of loving the catchy Wiggles songs that in themselves often ‘suggested’ iconic rock songs. (Suggestion + Significant difference)

HotPotato-SongTitle

Hot Potato, Hot Potato to me suggested the old Billy Haley hit See You Later Alligator.

Bill Halley actually covered the song from an earlier song called “Later Alligator”.

But I digress!

My main point is that in my professional opinion (as a copywriter and music-lover and occasional musician) that simple jingle is brilliantly effective in:
1. embedding the name Motorama
2. connecting positively and having a lasting positive association.

Lots of radio ads are targeted at that lucrative audience listening to the radio at times driving kids to and from school.

Advertising is all about creating awareness and association – creating ‘connections’ between the product and people’s lives. I now connect the jingle to my kids and with driving my kids to school – and wanting to keep my car safe for my kids – so when I think car safety…I will think Motorama. Cool bananas! It’s interesting how the brand is actually Cool Banana – but that has a connection with the popular expression –‘Cool Bananas’.
bill haley alligator

Connecting back to Bill Halley’s “See you later alligator… in a while crocodile” that song used a popular expression using rhyme and made it even more popular.

I have no business connection with Motorama. But they are now ‘in my head’ for when I think about car service or even a new set of wheels. Now to get Cool Banana Motorama and Hot Potato Hot Potato and See you Later Alligator out of my head.

Can YOU think of celebrity zombie names? – like ZomBieber or ZomBeyonce?

Reposting this for US Halloween. All the Zombies and werewolves around our neighbourhood reminded me of this earlier post.

I Wanna Be Creative!

justin-bieber-as-zombie

This post follows yesterday’s post about the bad-pun Movie name – Zombeavers.

Zombeavers Movie

Yes – it’s a “real” movie about Zombie Beavers.

My pun-loving son, Orlando, and I love making up silly wordplay stuff.

Nerdvana

On our way to school today we started riffing on what celebrity names could go well with Zombie – to create Zombie Celebrities – modelled on the Zombeaver name.

Zom-Bieber! – Orlando suggests with a cheeky grin on his face.

Zom-Beyonce! I add.

Zom-Biancotti! my 6-year-old daughter joins in – sounding impressed with her cleverness.

It’s  a celebrity name – but our family name does sounds like a good pun. – starting with a “Bee” sound to fit with ZomBEE.

The kids have a good ear for wordplay!

Cleo wink

(This is Cleo’s wink! – she doesn’t have an eye problem)

I’m very happy at her penchant for the pun and  creativity!

Anyway – this was just…

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How a warm bath or shower can improve the flow of your ideas, problem-solving, writing and creativity – part 2 of 2

I Wanna Be Creative!

In part 1 (link at the end of this post) we looked at scientific support on why a warm bath or shower can help us feel relaxed so we can get those creative ideas flowing.

A University of London scientist summed it up this way:
‘For many people, it’s the most relaxing part of the day.’ It’s not until we’re being massaged by warm water, unable to check our e-mail, that we’re finally able to hear the quiet voices in the backs of our heads telling us about the insight. The answers have been there all along – we just weren’t listening.”

In part 2, we explore how getting the good ideas is just part of the solution. You also need to capture those ideas – so they don’t disappear or go down the drain with the warm water that helped get the ideas flowing.

For years I made a…

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Improve your #writing – write initial ideas on paper AWAY from your computer and phone

I Wanna Be Creative!

This can definitely help you write better. Well, certainly get better ideas to write about and express them concisely and clearly.

This is an earlier post I was reminded of when I slowed down and took time to think when I was away at an executive escape/writer’s retreat I was engaged to write about. Access to

Access to screen devices and on-line information and inspiration can be helpful – but it can also be very distracting. I find I am far more effective as a writer when I take time and space to think. Sometimes it helps you create new things – and sometimes it helps you remember important things you forgot in your busyness!

paper notebook2Earlier post:

I’m advising a professional and very busy client who is “enjoying” some forced “slow-down time”.

He is recovering in hospital after an operation. He is in pain – but I’m trying to be…

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What stands out? – political messaging

A political-savvy friend asked me my professional opinion on this Queensland Election message.

QP 22814232_10155754204088187_1200097916869723348_n

My opinion is based on my experience helping businesses create and display messages – whether it’s on a billboard or in a print ad or in a printed leaflet or poster. I advise businesses on how people ‘read’ messages and how to make different parts of the message stand out with spacial and size hierarchy.

It’s not just what people see or read – it’s what they remember and how a message makes them ‘feel’. And the visuals and placement and design are very important in creating that ‘feeling’.

In the West, we read from top to bottom and left to right.

So what does the audience ‘see’ first? – the words, the message.

It’s also an old ‘trick’ to use the gaze of a person in a photo to also direct the viewer where YOU want the attention to go – in this case, once again toward the words.

The message is very broad and non-specific . Some critics may say it’s too broad. I say this broadness can work as the over-arching statement then backed up with specifics – more targeted regional examples of diversity and how it can be a strength. I predict we will see more specific examples as the campaign unfolds.

Also, it’s very ‘office-bound’. I predict we’ll see more ‘out and about’ images with the same wording as the campaign evolves.

yes we can obama 030e036a9b8e0ceaff3c9a631008f51d--obama-poster-obama-campaign

I give as an example of a broad over-arching statement Obama’s Yes We Can (actually borrowed from/inspired by a 1970s campaign with the message in Spanish.)

Yes We Can – was very, very broad. We can what?

And comparing the two images you can notice the differences.

The ALP message is landscape-ish. Actually, more ‘square'(in shape) which fits the internet scroll-through style. The square has changed layout and how messages are read. The Obama one is portrait and I imagine both are for different type of placement and uses.

There is also a whole visual literacy about the use of the space. Generally, looking to the left is looking backward in time. Looking to the right is to the future. Of course, there is the usual left-right placement when you are comparing two political views.

In message design and language, you often need to balance competing principles. I understand the words first principle. I would also like to see how the design looks with the Premier looking out to the right. (not in politics – but in spacial design.) After all, Obama was liberal (in the US sense of the word) rather than right-wing conservative and he was often depicted as looking out to the right to a hopeful future.

As for the actual wording: there is definitely an emphasis on the first words – In Queensland.

There is inclusive language – our. used twice.

There is also a principle of size hierarchy – the bigger the words – the more important. I am curious why IS OUR is emphasised in bigger words.

I look forward to seeing future ads and whether, as I predict, more specific messages emerge under the over-arching broad message.

#Copywriting – how to write to be found – #SEO

Writing to be found can a challenge – and a very different challenge from writing to stand out and be noticed.

copywriting IMG_5909

I just downloaded this cheatsheet after a subject line with the word COPYWRONGER caught my attention and made me want to open and read the message.

However, as I was discussing with an SEO expert the other day, SEO is taking the wit and creativity out of writing and if you are ‘writing to be found’ you often get better results if you play it safe.

As my SEO friend explained – there’s a big difference between writing to amuse and entertain people AND writing to please the SEO gods and search robots.

For example, while I find the title “Don’t be a Copywronger” amusing and attention-getting – it’s not good for getting found.

montage words nerd

You need to use the words a person would type into a search engine – and people would type in copywriter or copywriting rather than copywronger

Also, because people use search engines search for answers to questions it’s often helpful to start a title with: How to X. I know it’s predictable and even boring bt it works.

Another useful expression is: the best the best way to X.

I was annoyed at the effect of writing for SEO – claiming that search robots are turning writers into boring robots.

That’s why it can help to have a writing team – an expressive ‘writer’focussed on expression and an SEO-focused ‘editor’ who tweaks the writing to be found.

Note the predictable title to this post: #Copywriting – how to write to be found -#SEO

OK – back to the Copywronger example. In my opinion, that expression is effective as part of an e-mail strategy because it DOES stand out in an in-box and appeals to people interested in writing and copywriting. I suppose, technically it was noticed and ‘found’ – by the human eye and human mind.

New word – scareotype

doubleshot media

Don’t you love new words/expression that describe something concisely and cleverly?

x men

This word – scareotype was inspired as I was listening the ABC movie reviews this morning – as the reviewer talked about stereotypes of evil characters.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by clever, creative friends and work colleagues and even my kids who boldly create their own new words and expressions. I think my son will be proud of this expression I was inspired to create.

olivetti CU

Good expressions that catch on often:

  1. sound good -the assonance of scareo and stereo
  2. describe something briefly
  3. combine words people are familiar with – e.g. scare + stereotype.

I encourage you to  dare to create your own words. What other ‘types’ can we have in movies – romantic characters? heroes? side-kicks?

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How necessity is the mother of #creativity AND creative #invention

I Wanna Be Creative!

Here’s how ‘problems’ can force you to create new things – especially new sounds in music.

TWS simpsons-thewhitestripes

I play in a 3-piece band – Eugene & The Egg – but our bass player who runs his own business has been extra busy with work in the clean-up after storm damage and flooding from Cyclone Debbie.

egg 2

Last year, when I was ultra busy as a Deputy News Director at a TV station, I had to not turn up for gigs and Rene (the bass player) and Eugene (guitarist/main vocalist) had to play as a duo.

Now Eugene and I are preparing to be able to perform as in a guitar-drums duo in the style of one of my favourite groups The White Stripes.  Jack White is one of my favourite creative people who seems to thrive on doing things differently and having to adapt to different circumstances. The fact that they were…

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