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16 March 2010


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Tom, this is a terrific demonstration of the value of determined, imaginative researching; particularly the way insights can inspire imagery. There is a pervasive idea that striking images and metaphors appear to writers when they are in the act of staring at a blank screen. This happens sometimes, but in my experience powerful ideas and images are usually the result of hard work, particularly the persistent application of brain to sources of information. I think this is especially true in business writing – the thoughts and examples that might set a company apart are more likely to be found through research (reading, interviewing, visiting, questioning, looking, smelling) than through moments of creative revelation. Writers need to actively pursue insights, not passively await their arrival in a cerebral taxi. Flashes of creativity are often needed to bring research alive, but it's very difficult to retrofit a flash of inspiration to research (although quite a few ad agencies try). That old saw 'rubbish in rubbish out' may be simplifying it a bit, but a writer who conducts half-hearted or misdirected research is less likely to find the raw materials they need.

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