I have always been interested in words and how they can be manipulated contextually. I love wordplay and I think it is at the heart of everything we do in creative communication. Even when the execution has few or no words, it is still the words in your head that define the idea.
John Hegarty’s famous “Write less, say more” is a mantra I aspire to, but rarely achieve to my satisfaction.
I have won awards for copywriting and I enjoy writing poetry, but the hardest thing is to “kill the babies” you have given birth to, by editing them out of your written piece. I often find it easier to show the piece to an innocent bystander or sleep on it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Having said that, there is a joy in finding the most succinct expression, the very essence of what you are trying to convey, in the least words possible.
But if you want to avoid verbosity, you need time, and in this business that is a rare commodity. As famous 17th Century mathematician and theologian, Blaise Pascal said, “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Only now, after decades of practice, can I truly say that it comes almost naturally, yet no less painfully, to shorten and craft by cutting.
In a play it is often the silences that are most profound and meaningful. In a film it is the unspoken subtext that is usually more meaningful. In the much more immediate communication of advertising and marketing, it is often the implicit, not the explicit that carries most weight.
When I work with creative people half my age they teach me much about the art of communicating and remind me that it is the ever-changing vibrant vernacular that reaches them at the deepest levels. That is why insight is such a key plank when developing concepts and writing copy. The creativity is always better informed and therefore more compelling when driven by truths derived from simple insights. I like to think I also bring the other essential ingredient of wisdom, which comes from experience. Life experiences and professional know-how.