It’s the final week of the first term, and what a ride it has been. The amount of wisdom I have managed to gleam from our extremely knowledgeable and experienced mentors (including some invaluable alumni advisors) is vast, and I have a long way to go, but I feel that things are starting to click into place. I have found myself interrogating my work in ways I would never have imagined before. The output is more robust and clearer.

Two weeks ago I was partnered with the person I’ve clicked with the most so far, and felt that the work we produced was rewarding and smart. Early on in the process of finding a solution to the brief, we thought we had cracked it – we dreamt up a sharp, witty campaign with bold execution which we felt was going to be a hit. Then we took it to Marc for his opinion, and he pointed out a fatal flaw. He got a knife out and we had to kill that baby.*

After a singular moment of reflective sadness, we pushed on and out of the ghost of that first idea came the blossoming bud of a new idea. Similar, yet totally different. We started to run again, and were pulling the idea in all directions. We built it up until we were happy with it.

Then we met with a fantastic alumnus called Ethan, who posed some questions about our idea, and then told us to strip it right back to the core elements required in the real world to get the story across without any fatty content whatsoever. It had to be lean and as clear as daylight.

We went away and asked his questions to ourselves until we had worked out an answer to fix our brief into something pretty much bulletproof. Then we dismantled it, until the parts lay before us. We kept only the essential elements required to make it run.

This is something I will keep going through on each brief I work on from now. I will endeavour to make sure the idea is watertight and solves the brief fully, without any faltering flaws or shortcomings, and without leaving any angle unconsidered. I will strip the idea back to the bare bones and simplify it down to the essential parts required for it to live. Anything else is surplus and will only distract. 

You have to be ruthless with yourself and your own ideas to make the best work. Poke each piece of work with many different sticks, until nothing can pierce the skin. Don’t be afraid to scrap things you’ve worked for days on; an hour later something ideal will pop into view fully formed from the ashes of the idea you just burned. Those ideas which rise from the corpses of dead ones are stronger, smarter and simpler. Each version is an improvement. Each round of questioning is a layer of armour placed on top of your idea.

I won’t be precious about ideas. I’ll happily kill them.

*Marc will kill your idea quicker than any other mentor if your idea is flawed in any way. Go to him. Hold your baby out to him with glee.

SCAB Track: Bring Me Your Loves by St Vincent

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