Bouncing back? Give me a break.

I have to confess that I wheedled my way into becoming an advertising creative by the back door. Although I had some experience as a graphic designer, being able to rustle up a logo or letterhead doesn’t really cut the mustard when it comes to copywriting or art direction in an agency.

There’s always a way though, and I realised that my experience with type might qualify me for a job as a typographer: the guy (or girl) who turns a creative team’s scribbles and typed-up copy into a detailed layout which an art studio will turn into the camera-ready artwork that gets supplied to a newspaper, magazine or poster printer.


Although being a typographer was reasonably satisfying, it wasn’t what I really wanted long-term. No, my ambition was loftier. I wanted to be the one with the Magic Marker and the blank layout pad, the one who dreamt up the ideas themselves.

So while I worked my typographer’s role by day, I was constantly ear-wigging and watching the ‘proper’ creatives. As I determined that a headline should be set in 48pt Goudy Old Style, I’d really be listening to the team in the next office to work out how they worked.

And that was how I learned, and it’s how most of us learn of course. We watch others, emulating where desirable, perhaps choosing not to where not.

The top-dog Executive Creative Director, John, was a copywriter. Not for him the felt-tipped pens – he favoured the electric typewriter. (Although we’re not quite talking Mad Men era here, my beginnings in the ad business were definitely pre-PC.)

One little tip I picked up from him was the power of alliteration. As long as it’s not overdone, a pair of words whose beginnings share similar syllables nearly always add a little extra interest to a piece of copy.

Now, although this is a slightly convoluted tale, it came to mind as I thought about resilience: the way we hopefully recover from adverse events or gloomy thinking. The Alliterator sometimes strikes when we think about this, with the result that it can get talked about as ‘bouncing back’. The thing is, however, recovery is rarely as instant or elastic as this. Having looked at many examples of how people return to something approaching normal after a bout of low mood, it’s clear to me that it takes time. It’s a little-by-little process rather than a ‘boinnggg’ type of thing.

Perhaps resilience is less about expecting summer to follow on immediately after winter, and more about recognising that just as the seasons change slowly but surely, so too can your mood.

Maybe rather than bouncing back, we should practice patience?

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