On Reasons to be Creative

Reasons to be Creative is one of those ‘always meant to go’ conferences for me. I moved back to Brighton last year and the timing didn’t work as was away. This year I finally got to go. This is the tale of how a simple sending of an email resulted in me on stage giving an elevator pitch. How attending one conference has relit my creative fire.

I had considered going this year, even been told about the elevator pitches, but somehow never got around to it. Then one evening, I decided to take the email bull by the horns and actually send a pitch in. I figured it would get rejected and carried on my way. Ding! An email arrived from John Davey, the organiser.

I like it!
Consider yourself accepted!

I blinked.. shuffled around in the seat a bit and generally looked confused, puzzled, excited, thrilled, happy and slightly dazed. That’s quite a facial expression. After the initial yipes had faded from my brain loop, it sunk in. I was going to be going and had been given the amazing opportunity to give an elevator pitch.

As the time got closer, I ended up with a rather interesting schedule of putting on ThemeConf the week before I went to Reasons to be Creative. Undeterred, I knew this was an opportunity I didn’t want to turn down. I had chosen to speak about pattern libraries and my pitch was titled: “Structure for Creativity with Pattern Libraries”. As it’s a key work focus for me, this talk made sense.

Before I really knew it, the time was close. John sends this epic email about the process. As an elevator pitcher you are asked to attend a series of rehearsals. In an email this process looks a bit lengthy, but it sure was needed. It’s quite a task to fit everyone into the hour when they are only doing 3 minute talks. The change overs, the laptops, the microphones.. the sheer hazard of walking people around back stage. On paper this looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Without the rehearsals it would be. I want to give a huge thanks to everyone that helped us all look so good on stage, it takes a team to get us running smoothly.

One of the really nice things about being an elevator pitcher is the camaraderie. You are in this together with others and that carries through every rehearsal and the conference itself. From knees knocking together whilst we all sat in the row waiting to speak, through to getting together on Sunday after our first meeting and sharing a drink as we got to know each other. It really made this a special experience. At random points throughout the conference I’d have an exchange of supportive nods or chat with another pitcher. It made me feel welcomed and at ease.

The night before I sat down with the schedule and worked out what I wanted to see. There in lay an issue. There were so many good talks it was hard to choose! The conference isn’t recorded and I understand the sheer cost and technical headache, involved in doing that in a venue of this size with 3 tracks. However, it made deciding a bit hard and there were inevitably talks I wanted to see that I missed. I decided to really try and focus for most talks, on more creative ones that wouldn’t usually be what I’d get exposure to as much. Little did I know this was exactly what I needed!

As the conference progressed we did rehearsals each day. My days became this awesome rhythm of filling up creatively in the day, enjoying a long lunch, rehearsing in the evening and relaxing watching an inspirational speaker in the evening. The process of rehearsing elevator pitches was described as a military one, it’s the nicest, caring army I think that exists. If you ever do a pitch be assured you do need all those rehearsals and you will wish you had more. Also, listen to the feedback even if given not just to you.

Getting to speak was amazing, but even more amazing was the recharge I got I didn’t know I needed. I spend my days creating themes, but my background has a lot of roots and one of those is the art I studied right in Brighton. I stopped painting a long time ago, my daily sketching faded over the past year also. I didn’t realise this was because I was running on empty. I didn’t know that Reasons to be Creative was the recharge I needed, but it was. I have started doodling again, I am full of crazy ideas and experiments again. This means I’m back in my creative happy place and it feels good.

If you get a chance I’d really recommend doing the elevator pitch. This event has a different crowd and vibe from a lot of conferences. John called it a festival, that fits it far more. It was very relaxed. I got to kick back, soak up all the talks. My price was to do the best I could in 3 minutes. That’s a really low price. If talking isn’t your type of thing, this is a conference I’d recommend simply for it’s vibe, subtle recharge and ability to light your creative fire. Reasons to be Creative couldn’t be named better. I hope to make this again and if I can make this an annual recharge.

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