What does it feel like to have an idea?

The cliche is it's "like a light bulb going on in your head."

In 'A Smile In The Mind', David Stuart describes feeling an "absence", before the arrival of an idea.

For me, it's like a form of electric shock in my brain and (for some reason) my arms and occasionally chest. That sounds dramatic, but sometimes it's very mild. The severity of the shock seems to correspond to how 'big' the idea is.

Whatever it's like for you, you always know when you've had one.

And in an ideal world, you would never present anything that didn't result from one of these light-bulb or brain-storm moments.

But this isn't an ideal world. Time is a problem - you often have to present something "in two days" rather than when you've had a great idea. It could be a crap brief, or a brief you just don't click with... on some briefs, you may never have an idea.

So you may end up presenting several 'ideas', none of which actually have an idea in them.

Oh well. Needs must. And you've got to have something, so that something can be discussed in the meeting.

That's okay. As long as you're honest with yourself.

If you haven't had that feeling, you haven't had an idea. And in my opinion, it's worth working on until you do, rather than spending time polishing an idea-less idea that if it gets made could very well end up being a... well, a you know what.


P.S. the tendency seems to be for people to have lots and lots of ideas at the beginning of their careers, and fewer and fewer as the years go on; the compensation for this decline is that more of your later-years ideas will be 'right'. Does this chime with your experience?

Previous Tips:

How To Use Social Media; How To Get The Best Out Of Directors; Don't Write Ads, Write Strategies; How To Choose Where To Work; Working Outside London; What Would John Webster Do?; What Would Paul & Nigel Do?; The Hidden Flaw; How To Write Copy; Be Funny All The Way Through; How To Do Virals; How To Negotiate Your Salary; How To Get A Pay Rise; Be Wary Of Punding; Challenge The Brief; Tell The Truth; Playing To Lose; How To Write Headlines; How To Do Direct; How To Do Radio; How To Do Press; How To Do TV; How To Do Digital; How To Do Posters; Look At Weird Shit; Presenting To The Client; Presenting To The Team; Presenting To The Creative Director; How To Deal With Rejection; Look Creative; Don't Be Afraid To Ask; Your Idea Has To Be 120%; Read Iain's Tips; Don't Behave; How To Discuss Ideas; Read Hugh's Tips; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job; How To Turn A Placement Into A Job (Ed Morris view); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ; Make Friends With Traffic; Get Reference; Don't Stop Too Soon; Be Very; Breaking Up; Working Well With Your Partner; Finding The Right Partner; How To Approach Agencies; Never-Seen-Before Footage; Dicketts' Finger; Two Blokes In The Pub; Play Family Fortunes; Should You Take A Bad Job?; Don't Overpolish

68 Comments