Honest Post: Creative Recovery

Over a year ago, my boss complimented me and said I recover well. In turn, I complimented

myself on being a superb actress.

I can't honestly tell you I bounce back from disappointments, failures and getting lost in the trenches well. Or quickly. I put my all into every thing I do. (Well, most - there's that one part of me that is daydreaming.) Even if I think it's a boring project, or an inane client request, or an Olympics-level exercise in futility. I may fuss sometimes (mostly to myself. And my partner. And my friends.) But I have a certain standard I try to keep myself to. And if I don't do my best, that's not good enough. I never want to give up or give in. I try my hardest to work things out.

But it's not that easy in advertising. You know that saying "You win some you lose some"? Here it's more like 30-70 than it is 50-50.

There have been times I work 10 hours days 10 days straight - writing, rewriting, then writing again. Only to hear:
Oh, the budget got cut, or the client changed their mind, or we're putting Team Super Awesome on this project instead or even, that absolutely heartbreaking-but-oh-so-courteous "Thanks for trying."

I nod. I bite the inside of my cheek and try not to grind my teeth. I may ask a question or two for clarity. Then I go take a walk or look at pictures of kittens. And then I jump back in and start trying harder. Whether it's starting over or starting on something new, I pour all of my energy (fueled by frustration, disappointment and embarrassment) and try to Rumpelstiltskin it into gold.

I've talked extensively about the heartsnatchingness of advertising (read here, here and here) and I can tell you that it won't change. No matter what agency you go to or client you work on, something is going to kick you in the nuts and not say sorry.

To be a good creative, you have to have thick skin and a trampoline. There's no crying in advertising and you can't waste precious billable hours upset about a loss when there are other projects to finish.

You can be sad, throw a rock in a lake or have a glass of scotch. But you have to shake it off and get back to work.

How? I started talking to myself. Sometimes out loud, at my desk or in bed before I go to sleep. I tell myself these things - over and over - until I start to believe them. Maybehaps it'll work for you.

My Creative Band-aids
Repeat after me:
  1. This is not the end of the world. Things like this happen all the time.
  2. Look for other opportunities to be great.
  3. Everything is a lesson and every lesson is a blessing. (My motto)
  4. This is not a reflection of your talent or worth. This is one thing, one mistake, one unfortunate situation, one effed up series of events that is meant to make you smarter, stronger, better, smarter.
  5. (And in extreme cases) What doesn't kill you will strengthen you. And this will not kill you.
I have a strategically-placed tattoo that says "all shall be well."

It always is.