Hindsight is 20/20 – By @charlesfare
By Charles Olafare
Hindsight is 20/20
As I’m typing this right now, my vision is mildly impaired. I’m supposed to wear glasses whenever I use the computer, especially early in the morning. If I don’t my eyes get tired from the straining and don’t recover for a few hours.
We’re meant to going to the park later – I’ll be walking around our local park later squinting at all that nature has to offer. My punishment for for not thinking ahead.
Sometimes I have the same problem with my work that I do with my eyes. I neglect something important at the early stages and then the end result is fucked because of it.
Writing a brief. Doing research. Finding insights. Nailing a proposition. All things I should be doing before jumping head first into ideation. They always feels like such a chore. But not doing them means my creative ideas lack focus and seem fuzzy round the edges.
A bit like my vision right now.
Music to make scamps by
I’ve had a lot of jobs that involved getting my head down and writing very boring things. Articles, FAQs, calls to action. Even the instructions for a range of Thai anti-dandruff shampoos. In all these tasks the only way to stave away the mind-numbing boredom was to pump music into my ears.
I used to think that the best music to work to was instrumental. Expansive, slow-paced pieces that give you time to think. Brian Eno’s Music for Airports or something like that.
As always, things are different at ad school. Loud and fast beats out soft and slow when I’m trying (struggling) to scamp. We’re talking 80s/90s American hardcore. Wiry and scattershot post-punk. Or, most effectively, the kind modern rap and hip hop that makes hip hop purists, boom bappers and backpackers lament the death of lyricism.
My theory is this: the more frenetic the tune, the less room my head has for thoughts. Thus I’m more able to function on auto pilot, throwing out words and pictures without really thinking about I’m doing.
When you’re trying to fill a blank page, the time for being cerebral comes much later in the process.
Just plug in and tune out.
Hiding in the toilets
The wonderful Deana came in for another masterclass this week. Just before she started her class, Marc announced that this particular session has a history of freaking people out. “Some students just found it too much to handle,” he told the room. Being something of a notorious cynic, I naturally thought this was bollocks.
I reckoned it was a bit of showmanship and playful exaggeration to get us amped up and in the mood. No way anything we’re about to do here could make someone actually freak out. And if it does, it certainly won’t be me doing the freaking. Or so I thought.
About 15 minutes later, I was hiding in a toilet feeling sorry for myself and waiting for the whole thing to be over. The masterclass was all about other people’s perceptions of ourselves. We were to strap bits of paper to each other’s backs and go round the room writing which character traits we thought people had.
The very idea of it terrified me. I honestly spend about 60% of my day coming up with reasons why everyone in the room might hate me. The notion of going around said room and getting people to anonymously jot down what they thought about me was the stuff of nightmares.
I wonder why though?
There’s something about being confronted with how people see you that’s quite unsettling. It’s hard enough dealing with how I feel about myself. The thoughts of 50-something people I’m still just getting to know feels burdinous. The straw poll that broke the camel’s back.
I don’t think it even matters to me whether they’re positive or negative. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to run to the hills. Or at least as far as the bogs.
Obviously, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. When I came down from my self-imposed exile, everyone looked pretty pleased with the results they’d gotten. Lots of “good listeners” “supporters” and “questioners”.
As I sat down with my empty sheet of A4 paper, I thought to myself: “It must be nice to know exactly the good that people see in you.”
I’d let my fear rob me of a valuable experience. I probably shouldn’t do that again.