My mind has gone blank

It's good to let your mind go blank

Years ago, when I was still a planner, I worked with a brilliant Creative Director called Sedge…

He consistently nailed the brief and produced exciting work that made my job easy. I’d share his ideas with my clients and take as much reflected glory as I could. He was also the only creative in the agency to still have a rack of Magic Markers on his desk. All the young bucks were working on Macs and had long since abandoned paper and pens – if they ever had used them. But Sedge was the best and he had markers.

One day I asked him why he still kept the pens. Was he harking back to a better time? A slower, more creative age? “It’s not the pens” he explained, “it’s the paper”.

“When an idea isn’t working, with a file on a computer the tendency is to de-iterate. To remove a few layers of development and go back to the point where you were happy with the idea. You think it will be quicker. You think it’s easier to get to a great result. But you’re kidding yourself when you do this. Most often this de-iteration is about ego. You’re thinking ‘It must be a good idea, I just need to resolve it correctly’. And that’s bull.

“Sometimes – often – you just have to go back to a blank sheet. Look at the challenge in a new way. Literally throw away the old idea and start again. It’s very hard to do and harder still when you’ve been developing on a computer. People rarely delete a file!” – Wise old Sedge*.

I was reminded of him the other day whilst reading an article on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6376607956166905856). Here were people taking completely new approaches to recipe development. They had deleted the file – scrunched up the paper – and looked at things in a completely fresh way.

So if you’re wrestling with a problem, I encourage you to “Be More Sedge”:

– Let go of an idea you’ve been wrestling with

– Scrunch up your “paper” and bin it

– Go back to the original brief, or the challenge, and start again

– Find your blank sheet of paper and just explore

– Let yourself create

And if you do, please share the results. I’d love to hear about it.

* Paul “Sedge” Sedgwick, now a stained glass artist (http://www.sedgwickstainedglass.com/), is the reason I never appeared on a TV commercial. Long story. I’m still getting over it.

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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.