16 Totally Whacked Shortcuts to Summon Your Fundraising Muse
Every so often you just get stuck when you need an idea. All writers know this. And we all know the standard advice for coming up with a creative inspiration: take a walk, sleep on it, put it aside and come back to it later, and all that.
The problem copywriters face is that you don't always time for such leisurely solutions. You need an email in two hours. Or your letter has to be done by 4:00. Time pressure doesn't necessarily get your creative juices flowing.
Fortunately, there are some down-and-dirty ways you can trick the muse into showing up, in 15 or 20 minutes instead of tomorrow or next week. Try these next time you're stuck:
- Write with your left hand. See what the other side of your brain can come up with.
- Take a mental inventory of the drawers in the dresser you had when you were 16.
- Drive a different way to work.
- Check out the dizzying array of choices when you search "Lawn Furniture" on Amazon.
- Walk up the stairs backward. Or down if you dare.
- Do a few magic tricks. Learn some card tricks online, or get a few cheap illusions from a magicians' shop. It doesn't matter if you're any good at them. You're not trying to fool anyone but your muse.
- Stand on your head. (Close your office door first.)
- Put the things you work with far away from each other, so you have to walk back and forth.
- Look for something you lost behind your desk.
- Go sit in your car.
- Put your shoes on the wrong feet and walk around.
- Take a "Dali Nap." Salvador Dali used to claim he could hold a teaspoon, sit in a chair and close his eyes. By the time he had dozed enough for the spoon to fall from his hand and hit the floor, he was good to go. That's what he said anyway.
- Change your underwear. (Home office recommended.)
- Ask for an idea from someone you don't like.
- See how many words you can make out of "sensory cortex."
- Spend 15 minutes listening to the Moondog channel on Pandora.
In the Edgar Allan Poe story, "The Imp of the Perverse," the Imp is a metaphor for that impulse humans have to do the precisely wrong thing that's called for in a given situation. Every writer knows that's how the creative muse works. Whatever your mind is focused on, some unrelated idea will start creeping in around the edges.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.