D&AD & ME – By @hhenderson249

By Holly Henderson




Looking back at D&AD it was a big learning curve as far as my year has gone at SCA. We had been told previously that the year will go according to an emotional curve, which starts off positive and hopefully end’s positive, but there is the dip in the middle, where we begin to feel a loss of confidence, confusion, and potentially hit crisis. There is no saying how long anyone stays in each of these stages, but I think for me I had been dipping into the loss of confidence before d&ad and hit a brief crisis about two weeks to deadline.

I have always worked late into the night as it has always been the most effective time for me. I have also always been taught to work for solid amounts of time until a task or objective is finished and feels complete. This was one of the first lessons I learned I was getting wrong.

One of my partner’s and I had been working on a brief for D&AD, it was one that we loved and really wanted to get right. But looking back we completely overworked it and had used our energy up all wrong. We had a lot of fun coming up with ideas but we had also spent too long doing so, spending hours working into the night thinking, talking and sending ourselves down endless rabbit holes.

Looking back we had had the solution quite early on, but neither of us had had the confidence to recognise it was there, so we’d unknowingly bypassed it and kept building. By the time we had convinced ourselves that we had reached something great and perfect, we would walk into school the next day only to have the whole thing killed.

The problem was that we had been building and overworking the idea until we had a tangled web, where the core of our message was so buried that neither of us could objectively reach in and pull it back out.

This all only really happened over a couple of days, but those days taught me three things.

  1. The solution is always simpler than I think it is. If it can’t be written in a one-liner text to a friend without them getting it, then it needs to be refined.
  2. I have to learn to trust my gut and if I don’t the layers will grow and my lack of confidence will be apparent in every idea.
  3. Redirect my energy. When I am crafting and working by myself the late nights can work well, when thinking and coming up with ideas it’s the short bursts of the brainstorming that are the most effective, not the long hours where you end up churning over the same conversations but with different words.

Although each of these are lessons that we have been told repeatedly over the course of the year, they have always made sense on an objective level, but d&ad really brought this home as a personal truth. Now looking back, I know what happens and how it feels not to trust my gut, and how this changes if I do. Going into an industry which is based on persuasion, if I can’t trust in my own message then there is a fat chance of convincing anyone else.

Even though I hit my moment of crisis and had to work through this to reach the deadline, I feel that I can now walk away from the experience and into the new term with a sturdier gut and a little more clarity.

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