The Proof Is in the Condo

11 Apr

Courtesy: Greater Miami CVB

In the mid 1990s, I was a very junior account executive at a “hot” ad agency in Ft. Lauderdale.  The firm’s founding partner,  Stan Harris, once told me a story from his agency’s early years.  As I recall it, one of his first clients was a condominium development.  (Yes, South Florida has lots of peace-seeking retirees and hence lots of condos lining its relaxing beachfront.)

To stand out from the crowd, Stan had helped develop a billboard headline to distinguish his client from the crowd:  [Development X] – It’s Not Quite Like Other Condominiums. After the board went up, however, Stan received a call from his wife.  She was curious about the strategy behind the new advertisement.  From the board’s prominent interstate perch, it pronounced:  [Development X] – It’s Not Quiet Like Other Condominiums.

Potential buyers had been warned.  Just two little transposed letters was all that it took.  Besides making me laugh, this story impressed the importance of paying attention to the little details as well as the big ideas, as Stan no doubt intended.  The message has stuck with me.

Last month I began proofreading for a hospitality company based here in Orlando.  At the same time, I came across a Freshly Pressed post that hit a core dilemma.  The author, Broadside, posed the serious question: Would You Rather Be Creative or Productive?

Of course, we all want to say “both.”  But maybe we just can’t do them at exactly the same time.  Maybe there’s a time for each.  In my own humble experience, the more creative my project, the less productive I seem to be.  Case in point: my brilliant strategy to “walk” to Richmond as I write in my novel?  Um, well, I haven’t opened my manuscript since right after I posted about my brilliant plan.  But I really WANT to.  I just haven’t had the time.  (That’s my best ongoing excuse.)

In contrast, I’ve been very productive in my proofreading.  These jobs involve no creative risk whatsoever; therefore, I am impelled to finish them.  What’s more, they’re actual jobs.  That means they each have a tangible, measurable value associated with them.  Perhaps that’s how I’ve found time I didn’t know I had, why my husband watches the kids on nights and weekends as needed, so I can finish assignments.

Would I jump out of my second-floor office window if I had to proof full-time?  Definitely.  But these assignments make me feel, well, productive.  And productivity, like creativity, can be contagious.  That’s what I’m counting on.  Now I just need to find some more time and a nice, quiet place where I can retire with my manuscript.  Anyone have a beachfront condo I could use?

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3 Responses to “The Proof Is in the Condo”

  1. ticklingthemuse April 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    Love this post. I love when I find transposed words or letters like that – it’s so funny when such an error changes the message (for me, not the person who is advertising, of course!). I have found with my new manuscript that I can’t stop writing. Maybe you can find motivation by looking at the manuscript differently or even by starting on a new one with an idea you may be excited about. Best to you in both endeavors!!!

  2. pursuingthemuse April 12, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    I feel the friction, too, between “creative” endeavors and “productive” endeavors. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that they are not really diametrically opposed. I recently came across a journal entry from December, where I was complaining about not being “productive” enough. I said (in part), “The problem is, sometimes low-value activities lead to high value ones, especially when you are in exploration mode…” We must give ourselves permission to do both.

  3. mbwilliams April 26, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    I have come up with many ideas and planned many novels, but how many have I actually written? Not many… It seems the creative part is where I have my fun and the rest seems too much like hard work! I think people are so attracted to the idea of being creative that they (and I include myself in this,) forget about all the hard grind also involved in actually creating anything..Great post, thank you.

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