I’m always searching for ways to scratch that itch, stretch my creativity—music, acting, performance, drawing—and over the years I’ve found that by developing my writing skills I’ve become a better designer. Think about it. As designers we distill a lot of information, organize it to provide clarity. Well, good writing does the same. And as designers we’re often required to not only edit copy but to provide good content as well.
A few years ago I became obsessed with mini-sagas, which have been described as a sort of prose haiku, short stories told in 50 words, no more, no less. And they are complete stories, too, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Mini-sagas are a great tool to stimulate creativity and stretch your thinking. I began writing them for fun and to challenge myself. In fact, a former colleague and I traded our stories each week, pushing ourselves to be more inventive, witty and provocative. Here are a few samples of mine.
Without checking any luggage, the three of them boarded the plane knowing that only one of them would be getting off. Ryan had stayed with Diane for longer than he expected, and once Christine came back into his life he realized that she was just waiting for the perfect woman.
When she awoke everyone was gone and she was in a different city with her dog and a box of old letters that were addressed to her from her son but never opened. She cried as she read each letter, later realizing she doesn’t have a son or a dog.
This mini-saga I gave to my best friend on his 50th birthday.
Two Friends (50 on 50)
Brothers from different mothers, they met in a pit band and began a long, twisted musical journey seasoned with rock, pop, avant-garde, orchestral and folk flavorings. They married, had kids and kept day jobs to support their habit, always looking for ways to scratch that insatiable itch and remain connected.
I eventually used the format to craft a mission statement for my department.
Global Creative Solutions is a full-service creative department that provides design solutions for Pfizer Diversified Businesses located at the Madison, New Jersey, campus. Our team of award-winning designers possesses an intimate understanding of the Pfizer brand, product portfolio, culture and is committed to design excellence and stakeholder satisfaction.
I was hooked. Then I decided to take it to another level and write a 6-word story. As the legend goes, Earnest Hemingway was challenged in a bar to write a story on the spot in 6 words. And he did. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” There’s an entire novel right there! So I took a stab at it and came up with this.
Your in-house creative business partner.
Alright, alright, it’s not Hemingway, but you get the idea. By honing your editing skills you begin to understand the power of choosing the right words to express your ideas, thoughts and feelings. Learning how to be economical with words and still deliver a powerful message is an art form. Less is definitely more here.
Working in varied disciplines such as writing, painting, theatre and music can help stimulate creativity and take you to places you’ve never imagined. So take the challenge. Try creating a mini-saga and 6-word memoir every week. Be careful though; they can be very addictive. Not only will you be surprised how good your writing will become, I guarantee you’ll have some fun as well.
If you’re interested in reading some really good mini-sagas and 6-word memoirs, I recommend the following:
Glenn John Arnowitz is Director of Global Creative Services for Pfizer and co-founder of InSource. He is a designer, musician, composer, writer, actor and speaker, always looking for new ways to scratch that insatiable creative itch.