You have full creative freedom … do whatever you want….
Do you take those words from a client and run with them? Or do you cringe as you grasp for some semblance of boundaries in the project you have accepted? The concept of creative freedom is ambiguous: we all want it, but too much freedom leads a writer into dangerous territory.
Some people outside the creative professions assume writers and other creative-types want creative freedom more than anything else on their job. More than pay raises, promotions, or recognition for all their hard work. The common misconception is that creative professionals want to wander freely in an unstructured utopia, scribbling down ideas as they emerge, take naps and play games between brainstorming sessions, and work through the night when creative energy is at its peak.
Think about this for a moment as a practitioner of any creative discipline, how much work would you actually accomplish in such an undefined and absurd scenario? If you’re anything like me, your brain would implode almost immediately from the lack of direction and guidelines. Such an overwhelming task with full-blown creative freedom is akin to filtering the world’s oceans of all of their salts and finding a dry place to put the minerals without harming the wildlife.
No matter what kind of creative project we are discussing, some kind of guideline is necessary. In the full creative freedom scenario, you might receive a timeframe with a set deadline and maybe a few milestone review dates, but you need more than that. Consider brand guidelines, budgets, access to brand assets, project goals and intentions, target audience, and numerous other parameters that would be appropriate. You know what you need to complete a job. When it’s not provided, the offer of creative freedom suddenly takes on a new vacuous meaning.
Communication and Responsibility
Perhaps you are the sort of person who can take the concept of full creative freedom and run with it. You are able to make it your own project, but under the guise of the client. If so, I offer one piece of caution – don’t go so far into your own direction that you lose sight of the client’s needs ad goals, however vague they might be. After all, the client is paying for your time and talent, so the best approach is to communicate with the client to gain clarity before you begin a project. With any form of freedom comes the responsibility of managing it well so it’s neither abused or squandered.
Ultimately, creative freedom is what you make of it. Too little can inhibit your creativity and too much can be reckless. In this business, though, guidelines and boundaries are a necessity considering your need to turn around a job quickly. Never move forward on a project without the confidence of knowing its course.
David G interests in writing are wide and varied: technology, green energy, medical science, psychology, human behavior, earth science, anthropology, creativity, fiction, business, social media, mass communication, public relations, entrepreneurism, book reviews, art, music, history, and culture.