Learning to Embrace the Creative Process

I am a Type A. If you meet me, you’ll see it within minutes. Deadlines are life or death. Being late gives me ulcers. I do that weird thing with my jaw when I get stressed.

When I joined Red Thread last year, it was up to me to use my overbearing need for timeliness and efficiency to keep everyone in line and getting their work done. My presence was an adjustment for everyone. I recall with fondness early tales of people admitting how they felt a pang of anxiety when I would demand progress updates. I drank it in. It nourished me. At 5-foot-almost-1, I felt powerful.

But I knew whatever small amount of charm this new “energy” brought would expire soon. Deadlines would go unnoticed. Projects would be pushed back. So began a mandatory journey to appreciate the creative process—and to acknowledge that it didn’t always match up with my need to shove work out the door without a second look.

I observed, I listened, asked questions and tried to be patient. I watched careful work get picked apart in our office and in the offices of our clients and realized that there is nothing simple about the work we do. We spent an hour trying to figure out the right shade of green on a design project. We poured over hundreds of fonts before we found one that we kind of liked. I got headaches from doing that weird thing with my jaw.

Now I’m proud to say that I’m approaching a better understanding every day. Because if we did everything the way I originally thought we should (faster, efficient, accurate and just enough), our work would be mediocre at best. But we found the perfect green! And we eventually settled on a font. And even though it took FOREVER, it’s always worth it to present work we’re really proud of.

That’s enough sappy talk for a week. Back to work.

-Natalie