Light bulb moments – finding inspiration

Light bulb moments – finding inspiration

lightbulbInspiration has been represented by the light bulb for decades. Why a light bulb? It’s a pretty abstract way to describe an idea. Do we really switch on ideas? Do our imaginations stumble around in the dark until that ‘eureka’ moment when our brains flick a switch?

Although an idea may sometimes seem like a split second event, it’s truer to describe them as the sum of a great many thought processes that finally click into place.

How many copywriters does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. I’m not changing anything. You can tell those guys in layout it’s perfect as it is!


Yeah, copywriters are extremely possessive about their work. I’ve seen plenty of campaigns where the copy has become superfluous to the design, but someone has still insisted it appear. Copywriting is hard. When you spend hours producing a handful of words, it is easy to be annoyed if even one word is changed to accommodate someone else.

The hours I’ve spent staring at a piece of paper or a blank monitor screen trying to conjour up a witty and eye-catching promotional headline or motivating call to action! Copywriting is one of the most painful of writing disciplines. Attempting to find an original, mind-blowing concept that can be contained in a few words – or even a specific character count – while providing a strong motivation to consider the product on offer, is like trying to juggle ten balls at once.

Sometimes, the restrictions aid creativity but often finding the right line can be painful and take hours – even if the final result might seem obvious and simple. To be honest, the best copywriting always looks effortless and simple in retrospect, but is deceptively difficult to pin down. This is because good copywriting has that immediacy of meaning that cuts right to the nub of the argument in a way that fits all the criteria of the brief. But there’s nothing immediate about sifting through the millions of alternative options and words in your mind.

Usually, I try to find inspiration through wordplay — jotting down all the words associated with the product being considered. Within those words, there may be the beginnings of a pun or a simile or a juxtaposition of opposites. Sometimes, the product lends itself to none of
these.

There are certainly bits of copy I have written that I feel are pedestrian and uninspiring. Sometimes, the deadline means whatever line I have in front of me when the bell goes is the winner, regardless of any light bulb moment.

Any writer will tell you – if we could switch on inspiration like a light bulb, we’d be millionaires with a portfolio of best selling novels, award wining campaigns and movie scripts behind us. But ideas don’t come like that. They are the result of research, hours spent looking at things from a variety of angles and turning them around in your head. Ideas don’t come in an instant and they can’t be ordered on demand – no matter what my boss may think.

And there is no switch.