Author Archives: Anish Vyavahare

Advertising Writing – The Truth About Creativity

Prettiest when it rains!

Prettiest when it rains!

Two days at the lush campus of Northpoint, Khandala, spent amongst greenery, clouds, young minds and a super swimming pool are a great treat by themselves! Check out the photos of our session here.

Advertising has always been a field that is seen through the looking glass of awe, wonder and magic. The things that copywriters and designers do, the jingles the musicians churn up, the TV commercials that are made, have enamoured many a young lad and lass – either to embrace tightly or to reject entirely, the ability and possibility to be in this Creative field, probably the most creative field in the 21st century.

Learning to write for Advertising

Learning to write for Advertising

And yet, when I spoke about Creative writing and Copywriting to the Northpoint batch, I was compelled to tell the younger ones, that advertising is not all about creativity. That  the bread-butter of most advertising agencies comes not through the super-creativity that we associate advertising with, but regular, boring stuff. Like plainly written brochures, information pamphlets, TV ads that talk about Rs.2 off on a boring soap bar. Hours and hours are spent on doing stuff that will lead to cold, hard sales, rather than a gold at Cannes or an award in-house.

Yes, the industry is more creative, than say the banking sector. But what about when you are working on an ATM notice poster (the kinds you see inside ATM cabins all the time and never pay attention to?) that just wants to say that the interest rates on outstanding credit card amounts have been increased to 2.25%? The super creative alcohol, watches, condom ads that make into the mock-portfolio of many a ‘creative’ kinds are not the stuff that you do daily.

And indeed, even within the industry, the people are split into the ‘Creatives’ and ‘everyone else’. The creatives will include the copywriters, the designers, the musicians, the film-makers. Everyone else includes the Account Planners, the Client Servicing, the Business Development. While the Creatives will execute the final leg of the process, it is a lot of hours spent on the initial brief by the everyone else that results in a good ad campaign, as much as the brilliant twist of phrase by the copywriter or the excellent design element by the visualiser.

It is easier to learn to be creative for advertising than people think. And yet the challenges are many, sometimes, not very obvious to the inexperienced.

It is easier to learn to be creative for advertising than people think. And yet the challenges are many, sometimes, not very obvious to the inexperienced.

For a student, to understand the industry and how it works, it is essential to strip away the boundaries between the creative and the business sense. It is essential to know that creativity required for advertising is not the Pablo Picasso kinds. The creativity is not the ends by itself. It is a means to achieving sales or brand building – an objective beyond itself. The creativity required for advertising can be learnt by those who are ready to work on their language and design skills. It is not necessarily a bastion of those born with a flair for writing or design. That might just make the entry easier. But staying in the industry, doing work that is effective rather than creative, requires experience, understanding of people and psychology and the humbling knowledge that your job hinges not on how utterly awesome you are but whether you can deliver good stuff on strict deadlines. Stuff based more on client requirements than that super idea of yours.

Like Piyush Pandey told us during my convocation at Northpoint, “Advertising is a lot of fun. There are parties, glamour, celebrities. But once you finish your course and get into the real world, you will realise ki kaam bhi karna padta hai!”

Piyush Pandey at our Convocation

Piyush Pandey at our Convocation

Check out the photos of our session here.

Shiksha Power Creative Writing Programmes

SP Poetry Workshop Group Photo

When I used to write ads, working as a copywriter for India’s oldest advertising agency and even when I wrote my book, I always felt that I could have done with technical training in writing. While the west is choc-a-bloc with writing courses offered by individuals, institutes and universities, India is sorely lacking in them. Most established English writers in the country who have had any training in writing, seem to be trained in the west.

As with everything Shiksha Power aims to do, to fill gaps in education is a major goal. From teaching people how to communicate for growth in the corporate, to teaching children to express themselves effectively, we try to teach people things that will make their life more fulfilling and sometimes, even easier. When a lot of people started asking us to teach them to write, we came up our Creative Writing Programmes.

Creative writing is a vast area of expertise. It takes years and years for people to hone their talent and create their masterpiece. Yet, it is not a skill that is meant only for a few gifted ones. The advertising industry taught me that writing, like management skills, physical skills, can indeed be taught and sharpened. When I met Sunita and saw the way she taught kids to be natural at expressing themselves through the written word, through poems, stories and essays, we thought, why can’t we bring this to adults?

Our first venture into this area was our extremely restorative Residential Creative Writing Power Camp at Igatpuri (Check the photos here). The sun, mountains, chilly mornings, starlit skies and a lot of writing even by people who had never written earlier made sure we were going to continue with our creative writing programmes for adults as well as children.

When a lot of people who could not attend the residential camp asked us to have something in the city, we came up with the One Day Poetry Writing Workshop. We held the workshop in V.G. Vaze College, Mulund, Mumbai on July 7. Many college students and professionals participated in the workshop enthusiastically. It helped them learn the tricks of poetry writing and gain confidence as well.

Jui Feedback

We plan to have more such programmes in the future. If you want to organise one for your college/institution, please let us know. We also have a twelve session Poetry Workshop Pogramme called Poetry Sundays for 10 to 14 year kids at JustBooks Library at Hiranandani Meadows, Thane.

Ice Master – Short Story (Creative Writing Camp, May 2013)

This is a story written during The Residential Creative Writing Power Camp that was held at Igatpuri between the 24th and 26th of May, 2013. Hope you like it.

A quick note. Barf (pronounced to rhyme like Turf or Surf and not as Scarf) in Hindi means Ice.

It was only those few seconds when they unloaded him from his personal fridge to move him into the ice-cream godown that had left half his left ear looking eaten up. And he made no qualms showing his displeasure! He squinted his black button eyes in a way that made the trolley workers look at each other and wonder whether they were dealing with a cute snowman or an abominable one.

All of four feet and three fat globes of snow, including the smallest one on top for his head, Barf Master, as the new kids in Mumbai called him, was the least favourite of his master, back in the more comfortable climes of Greenland. A comfortable minus four degrees on warmer days and nippier on cooler ones, Mumbai in May was not Greenland at all! All he had got for coming here was a name he didn’t like, a melted ear and probably a heat boil on his bum.

His master, although he didn’t quite like him, had been a rich spoilt brat. He had made about a hundred snowmen last year and Barf Master was one of the earlier ones. While the newer snowmen had custom made noses and human looking eyes complete with the white of the eye and irises in various hues and colours, Barf Master was the old school kinds. Cucumber nose, old coat button eyes and three ping-pong balls for buttons on his trunk. When his master’s father’s company had decided to send snowmen for children in hotter climates to play with, Barf Master had been one of the first ones to be given away.

The children in Mumbai had loved him! Scrawny, dirty and so dark, Barf Master had never seen children like these! He had cringed the first time they came to look at him and when the naughty ones had tried to touch him. He still cringed each time. He now lived in an old and huge refrigerator that had once been used as an ice-cream godown. It was situated in the middle of a huge slum complex and the children swarmed from all over it to look at Barf Master. They had seen so much snow for the first time in their lives!

>May and June had turned out to be when the most number of kids visited him. While he cribbed and complained and cringed, he reveled in the attention he was getting. He didn’t like the kids touching him and leaving brown finger stains on his once spotless white body, but he loved the “Ah!”s and “Ooh!”s he inspired. That is why when July and August saw less of them because rains had flooded the storehouse in which the refrigerator was, Barf Master had been almost heartbroken. So imagine his relief when the kids started coming back to see him in September! He had thought, he would never see them again! Barf Master had smiled from ear to melted ear when they came to meet him and he hadn’t even cringed when a little kid had tried to lick him.

All of this changed in October. October in Mumbai was May all over again. But this time, apparently it was worse. Fewer and fewer kids had come to see Barf Master. One day when only two kids had turned up, Barf Master heard them talking about it being so hot outside that kids had been falling sick, some were even in the hospital. This was just horrendous! Barf master remembered how painful it was to lose part of his ear. He could only imagine how it would be for the poor kids. But what could he do for them?

>As night fell, he came up with a plan. He had already made friends with all the cool air in the refrigerator. He knew the cool air was just the hot air from outside that was better off. All he had to do was to tell the cool air to tell the hot air to cool off! And he did just that. While he couldn’t move from where he was, he directed all the cool air in his huge refrigerator to go off from the vents and cracks, outside, and to let the hot air in instead. While the hot air cooled in the refrigerator, he spoke to it and asked it to do the same! And boy, did that work! While it made him sweat and melt a little everyday, the kids started getting better. More of them came to see him everyday. October was getting worse, but the kids were getting better.

Till one day when the hot air came in and for some reason Barf Master started sweating and melting a little more than usual. It was a little after noon and the watchman had gone for lunch. That is when these bunch of kids walked in. There were four of them and one of them looked very sick. For all the dark she was, she looked pale. Tiny, frail thing, she couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. Listening to their talk, Barf Master came to know that she couldn’t bear the heat outside. So, they had gotten her to Barf Master’s fridge, to sit till the evening. Barf Master was sweating and melting quite a lot. He noticed the kids had left the door open. Hot air blanketed him. He could feel his cucumber nose slipping from his face.

The kids stayed there till the watchman came and shooed them away. It was almost dusk. The air was still warm and for Barf Master it was like he was in a volcano. He had melted to half of what he was. He kept sending out cool air while hot air came back in. He knew he wasn’t going to last for long, but he had to send the cool air for the kids. He couldn’t even remember what it was like at Greenland anymore, even when he tried hard.

The next day the kids came to see Barf Master in the morning, there was nothing but a pool of water, some ping-pong balls, buttons and a cucumber. They complained to the watchman who came in and saw that there was a crack in the back wall of the refrigerator. It let outside air in. And on a day when there was no electricity in the entire city, what else could happen to a useless snowman but this, he pointed to the dirty pool of water and asked the kids.

-Anish Vyavahare

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