“That’s the feeling I live for: The Kindergarten Factor. That experience of being so lost in what I’m doing, so into it, that I have no sense of time passing and I don’t even click away to check Facebook. I even forget to eat! That’s creativity.”
Meet Laura Belgray, copywriter and one of the funniest people I know. I love the irreverent, smart and very personal writing she shares on her blog. I don’t always agree and sometimes I laugh at her, for being so silly. But more often I laugh at myself. Because I’m one of those serious, sincere people who tend to forget that it’s all quite hilarious, when we think about it. I like to be reminded of that.
I had the privilege of watching Laura work a while back, as she helped me zoom in on an important piece of copy, and I was stunned. Not just by how spot on she was but by the sheer speed of it. The words just came flowing. Fast. It got me curious, so I asked her to give me her take on creativity. I think you’ll agree that she delivers on this one too.
What does living a creative life mean to you?
When I was in kindergarten, I remember spending most of my day with glue and crayons and safety scissors and glitter and construction paper in all colors. Just making stuff.
I’d be so immersed in creating a Valentine’s Day card, or a hideous napkin holder for my mom and dad, that I had no awareness of the day passing until the teacher said, “Start cleaning up! Close the Elmer’s caps! Time for graham crackers and juice.”
That’s the feeling I live for: The Kindergarten Factor. That experience of being so lost in what I’m doing, so into it, that I have no sense of time passing and I don’t even click away to check Facebook. I even forget to eat! That’s creativity.
A creative life is made up of creative days. When I’m at my best, I do something every day that brings me that Kindergarten Factor. Usually, it’s writing something for my blog. Some days, maybe it’s writing a great facebook post, or taking a picture for Instagram with a funny caption. I don’t love that I’m so dependent on the likes once I post something, but so be it. Sue me, I like approval.
What I do for money — mostly, helping clients come up with copy that shows off who they are and what they do — is also highly creative. But a creative life, to me, requires creating just for the sake of creating. On a day when I’ve done only what I was paid to do, I don’t necessarily feel like “I was so creative today!” Even if I was. Just being honest.
By the way, I believe my parents still use a napkin holder I made. It’s coming apart at the joints, but the dried macaroni shells are still glued on pretty firmly.
What do you wish you’d known when you started this work? What knowledge
or insight would have made the biggest difference?
I learned a lesson working in TV promos that’s come in very handy with the business owners and entrepreneurs I now help. When I first started working for TV networks, I would get really frustrated when the client told me they wanted one thing and then, when I gave them that, changed their mind and wanted something else. I’d be like, “Make up your mind, what do you really want?”
Or, I’d throw up my hands when they wanted something impossible: “We want to launch this sitcom with a 30-second spot that’s like Boogie Nights meets Mr. Rogers, but with only grapics, no actors.” It was like hiring a decorator for your living room and saying, “I want it spare and minimal, but also funky and eclectic and crammed with flea market knick knacks.”
It dawned on me one day that what everyone wants is something good. That’s it. They just want it to be good.
In any creative service business, the client usually hires you because they don’t know how to do it themselves. They don’t always have a vision. Some know what they want, but most don’t. They’ll know it when they see it, and can say, “Hell yeah, that’s just what I wanted.” So instead of trying to figure out what they want, and how I can possibly execute it, I focus on what’s going to make it great.
What trips you up? What kind of resistance do you struggle with the most,
and how do you move through it?
Getting and staying on a creative roll. The more I write, the more I write. But when I’m not writing much, I feel like I have nothing to say — so I get in ruts for long periods, sometimes. Ruts where I don’t produce anything.
I give myself the excuse, “I just need a break to re-spark my creativity.” It’s BS. Being creative is what generates creativity, not a vacation from it.
What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?
The Copy Cure! It’s finally out on the virtual shelves after 3 years of working on (and talking/ dreaming/ sweating about) it. It’s an online copywriting course I created with my friend Marie Forleo. It shows you how to find your voice and put it into everything you write, so people love and buy what you sell. Along with timeless techniques for better writing, we give guidance for writing sales pages, About pages, headlines, all that online marketing stuff.
It’s crammed with examples, and, clocking in at under 4 hours, completely binge-watchable. We consider it the Breaking Bad of writing courses.