One of my worst clients operates on impossibly short deadlines, dumps inane projects in my lap, and often refuses to pay me.

Why keep working for her?

Well, she’s my wife.

This time her economic development nonprofit was celebrating its 15th anniversary (she’s the sole remaining founder), and because serial copywriter abuse is shockingly not covered in California’s marriage law, she insisted I was legally obligated to write a fun, winsome poster/PR/press release concept for her.

In an hour.

Time pressures can provoke a brilliant response. But sometimes god doesn’t tap you on the shoulder with inspiration. And there you sit.

Every veteran creative maintains a bag of tricks, and with my deadline already looming, I went right for a time-proven creative cheat.

To highlight the amount of time that has passed, I simply pointed out the differences in everyday life that have occurred between then and now.

In this case, her nonprofit was formed when gas was a $1.17 a gallon, nobody had heard of Google, and most tech analysts were predicting Apple Computer would go bankrupt and disappear. (Awkward acknowledgment: when I was born, gas was 27 cents, a stamp was four cents, and the average new home cost $12,500.)

Suddenly, I had an engaging, slightly humorous basis for acknowledging everything her organization has accomplished over the last 15 years. Which — because my wife is one of the people who actually makes the world a better place every day she goes to work — is a lot.

I don’t recommend you trot this out every time you write copy for something more than a year old, but used in moderation, it provides depth and contrast, and gives you a launching point to frame growth, achievement or even product improvement.

Every veteran maintains a bag of tricks. Rely on them overmuch and you’ll stagnate and eventually go insane. But in a pinch…

Keep writing, Tom Chandler