Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Phil Cooke Podcast

May 7, 2019

Can you be creative on a deadline? Most creative professionals work within schedules and time frames – the television episode shooting in two days, the fast-approaching deadline for a film to be locked, or a ministry video due for a Sunday’s service. Phil Cooke offers techniques on delivering creativity under fire when you don’t have the luxury of waiting until the mood strikes.


We often think that creativity is something that’s inspired, beautiful, and only happens when the spark strikes or the muse speaks. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.


I’m a proponent of what I call “practical” creativity – which means creativity on a deadline. I’ve spent my career working for clients – studios, networks, nonprofits, major churches and ministries. In those cases, I don’t have time to wait for inspiration, I have to deliver ideas on a schedule. Worse – sometimes I have to deliver when there’s enormous pressure, risk, and a great deal on the line.


If you’re in the film and television industry or in any position which requires your talents as a creative, chances are, you work in a similar situation. While we’d all like to experience the comfort of waiting for wonderful ideas to come from the heavens, with most projects, we have to conjure up something right now.


Certainly we can’t totally control creativity, and can’t just hit an on and off switch, but there are techniques we can use to draw from when we have to deliver creativity under fire.


  1. Be a raging consumer of media yourself.Read books, watch movies, TV and online video. Go to museums. Subscribe to popular magazines. Know what’s current.


To know what creative ideas will work, you need to know what’s working now, what’s failing, and what’s already been done. Keep your finger on the pulse of the culture.


  1. Have confidence in your talent.This comes from years of work, practice and failure. (Rinse and repeat.) The more experience you have, the more options will come to your mind under pressure. The more confidence you have, the more likely you are to step up.


Plus, experience and confidence tends to quiet that voice in your head that’s telling you that you have no talent and your work is trash. However, the key is that you should be mastering your craft when the pressure is not happening, so that when it does hit, you’re ready to be amazing.


  1. Develop creative connections.Creative professionals are rarely the lone wolf types who sit alone in a studio thinking brilliant thoughts. For instance, read about Pixar’s “Brain Trust” and how it works in Ed Catmull’s terrific book “Creativity, Inc. that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)


Always have creative friends and mentors you can reach out to when you’re coming up blank because building on each other’s ideas is a key to creating brilliant work. Who would you call right now if you needed some help? Create a list so you’ll have it when things get tough. 


  1. Be the voice of calm in the middle of the storm.When deadlines approach, or the $%#@ hits the fan, people tend to freak out. You need to be the calm creative leader in the middle of the madness. Even in desperate situations, I’ve seen stressed out film crews and other creative teams completely relax in the presence of a leader who is calm and in control. You’ll never produce compelling creative work if you don’t know how to experience calm within yourself – especially when it matters most. 


Unless you’ve decided to be a landscape painter and only work when the muse speaks, then chances are you need to deliver creative projects on time and on budget. You can master practical creativity, but it takes preparation and discipline. There’s no better time to start than right now. – Phil Cooke


For more tips for creative professionals, visit Phil’s blog at


Get Phil’s “Unique: The Ultimate Planner for Creative Professionals” here:


Get a free eBook on Creativity! Sign up for Phil’s blog at


Listen to the Phil Cooke Podcast here: 


Find out more about Cooke Media Group here:


Visit Phil Cooke’s YouTube channel at