The She-wolf of Creativity – ‘Lupus in fabula’

Thought Leadership

by: Jim Morrissey, Executive Creative Director

The literal translation of the Latin phrase ‘Lupus in fabula’ is “The wolf in the story.”

When I’m creating something from nothing, the qualities of wildness and unpredictability that the She-wolf exudes can only come to life when I stay curious. It seems to me that the creative process is fraught with a rinse and repeat cycle of self-doubt and self-loathing.

Here are a few of those questions that pique my curiosity and help create an essential tension, a challenge and urgency:

What is the best and worst aspect of your audience’s day? 

If you don’t have empathy, you need to cultivate some. Consider the day-to-day life of your audience to gain an understanding of their feelings. What they yearn for and what they despise. This only slightly simplifies the rest of the process. 

What does this thing aspire to be? 

It seems like a straightforward question. (“It’s wanting to be a commercial!”) But it goes far deeper than that. It goes to the heart of letting the work speak to you. Shh. Listen. The work desires to express itself. 

What needs to be trimmed from this idea? 

Simplicity is the essence of elegance. Instead of lugging about 10 more things to make it bigger, try taking things away. You could be surprised by what’s revealed. 

What are the boundaries that need to be established?

Yes. Wide-open spaces are a favorite of creatives, but guardrails are crucial for keeping us focused. In addition to a timely deadline. 

Why am I not nervous about presenting this idea?

This question should keep you awake at night. After spending an hour or so tossing, turning, and pondering, you have an idea of what needs to be done. Burn the boats. Make more coffee. Start over again. Take inspiration from the She-wolf and take a bold step into the unknown because there is more to be discovered!

*The She-wolf legend goes that Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were rescued as young boys and survived by being suckled by a She-wolf. She symbolizes legendary founding and is a powerful emblem for wild beginnings, discovery and resilience.

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