Working Creative Backwards

I once asked a very eloquent friend, “What is your process in writing?”

He told me, “I write down what I want the reader to experience or learn inside a circle. Then I play a bit of word association. I write a feeling or object that’s closely related to that idea and draw a circle around it and connect the circles with a line directly to my main theme,” his fingers drew circles and lines in the air, “When I run out of words that associate directly to that word, I start associating words with those other words. It goes on for as long as I want it. Soon, I have a large molecule-looking object with words all over the page. Sometimes the paper is a small eight and a half by eleven. Sometimes it’s two pieces of poster board. No matter what size, it becomes the language and concepts of what I’m trying to achieve.” He told me this after I read his piece about Jim Bakker’s book “I Was Wrong”. Great title. Very funny cover (photographer: “OK, Reverend Bakker–Gimme very, very sorry. Yesssss. Nicccce.”).

I’ve written a few things in my day (my book is available on and fine local retailers) and I’m not sure if I agree. Work sometimes evolves and grows. Then there’s deadlines. You and I aren’t full time authors. We work in the client business and have to get things done by a certain day and time. But my friend’s literary corner-cutting strategy helps develop your concept quickly and helps write copy. It helps develop ideas. It helps create the language you will use.

His process got me to wonder, what other creative techniques can we provide clients and agencies to develop ideas? The video business can be technical and sometimes overwhelming. There are times when producers hand me projects and tell me to “work my magic” as an editor. I enjoy the ability to ‘spread my wings’ on a project.

But, as a producer, have you taken the time to ask a shooter or editor what kind of toolboxes we have? We tout the ability for Hi Def and creating beautiful visuals that are crisp and clean. Our toolbox of toys can sometimes get the juices flowin’.

For example, after messing around with some things, I came up with our concept of the ‘talking machines’ short film. This features motion tracking from the Avid. When I learned about motion tracking, I thought it was give a very real element to an idea that I was developing. If I used lock down shots it would have looked completely staged. The motion tracking gave it a very real, hand-held look that I needed to sell it.

Knowing a game plan on how it was being edited helped cut down on shoot time and edit time. That project took a lot less than what you might think.

Call Tweedee Productions today to help brainstorm creative visual with our toolboxes of shooting and editing gear. Sometimes working backwards can be efficient and economical!

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor & Janitor

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor & Janitor


  1. Just curious. Who was the genius who wrote the foreword in your book? That guy obviously doesn’t use the circle method.

  2. […] probably wondering what my point is, right? (One of these days I’m going to try that writing method my friend Steve blogged about.) What I’m saying is that sometimes the best thing we can do […]

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