On how to have good ideas

The American writer and scientist Linus Pauling famously said: ‘The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas and throw away the bad ones.’ He was right. Stop staring at a blank screen, waiting for a ‘Eureka!’ moment. Start scribbling. Stick thing on the wall. Create stuff. Share it with others. It’s amazing how often just talking about your ideas leads to new, better ones.

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson

On avoiding pricing that’s based on time spent

There are countless ways to price a project.

Thinking about how long it will take and adding up the days is a start. But really it’s about the value of an idea, not the time spent. In a famous Victorian court case, John Ruskin taunted the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler that a painting that had taken just two days to make was not ‘worth’ the fee of 200 guineas. The painter responded: “I ask it for the knowledge I have gained in the work of a lifetime.”

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson

On the human desire to meddle ever so slightly

This is an old presentation trick, but it’s good.

It was started by an advertising agency that would produce carefully worked-out presentation concepts, but always include a blue duck somewhere in the visual. When it came to the feedback, clients would say: “We love it, apart from just one thing — can you take the duck out?”

The creatives would sign a little, make a brief but lacklustre defence of their ultramarine mascot, then agree to the change — knowing everything else was going through. And they used this trick for years.

It’s a simple bit of psychology, really, reflecting the human desire to meddle ever so slightly. The clients would feel they had made a crucial intervention, little knowing that they had been deceived into approving everything else.

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson