Burn, Baby, Burn: How to Build a Campfire

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The day before arriving at the campsite, in the midst of all of the wonderful chaos of family and work responsibilities, Greg starts daydreaming. His mind wanders to the apex of the camping experience: the campfire.

He can practically smell the familiar scent of the smoky brilliance as he sees the light dancing in his mind’s eye.

Then his practical side swiftly kicks in, snapping him out of the moment. He asks himself:

Ahh, the campfire, yes.
How will I build that sucker?


Let’s talk about short-cuts.

When you’re out in the wilderness, you really have two options to build a fire. The route you take depends a great deal on the plans you’ve made ahead of time. The creative process is no different.

Option 1 – You pre-purchase a bundle of wood from Home Depot.

Home Depot Wood

Yes, it is faster and easier to just buy a bundle of wood on the way to the campsite. Yes, it will allow you to “skip to the end” and start enjoying the campfire, pronto. But a fire built with pre-fab bundles from the store will be sufficiently less memorable than a campfire that you build with your own hands.

The creative process is no different. There are no shortcuts to memorable work. There are no shortcuts to a creative product that endures.

We’re going with option #2, and so is Greg. (It’s amazing how Greg follows our lead so well!)

Option 2 – You find the wood on your own, because you are owning this fire.

You are a real man, (or a fearlessly bad-ass woman), so you grab an ax and head toward the nearest tree, feeling unstoppable. You use your strength to chop the low-hanging tree branches into a pile of substantial fuel, where you will carry it over to the circle you’ve envisioned for your fire. Maybe you’ve even outlined that area with stones.

This entire process takes hours. You are tired at the end. You are also a shade covered in sweat. But it was also incredibly interesting how much your mind was cleared with each swing of the ax.

At Radar, we believe that the path of least resistance is not always the best option, particularly in our space: creating vibrant media for our clients.

Staying prepared means knowing the outcomes of what might be a more difficult set of creative decisions, versus the outcomes of the “quick and easy” route. In our world of short attention spans, chance discoveries favors the prepared mind.


Known as the “father of microbiology,” Louis Pasteur’s (1822-1895) landmark discoveries led to modern vaccinations that have saved innumerable lives. His experiments in germ theory were wildly creative, and we believe his maxim rings true for the creative process.

In our next post, we’ll talk more about how taking the long road plays out in the adventure of building a fire: it forces us to move our bodies, which super-charges our creative minds.


The Camping Creative is the second of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

Do you have anything to add about how taking shortcuts has led to less-than-memorable creative moments? Together we can find new connections between the creative process and your own unique experiences. 

[Images via GIPHY & Legalv1]