This is the image we created to promote this nugget on the socials …
FPO is what agency folk call “for position only.” It’s what we label a content area when we’re not sure what we’re going to do yet.
We used it because up until yesterday, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about.
It’s not that I don’t have a reserve of ideas. They just don’t take up enough acreage to warrant a fully matured newsletter.
As a writer, there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page as the afternoon continues to ripen.
Then, I remembered the smartest thing I could do to save the situation …
I walked away.
If you’re not a creative professional, that might sound like throwing in the towel. But allowing time for your ideas to incubate is often the best way to coax the good ones out of hiding.
That’s not my opinion. That’s science.
When your brain has some raw material to work with, it behaves as an incubator where the subconscious mind makes connections that you couldn’t see before.
Why do we get ideas in the shower?
Or in the middle of the night?
Or when we’re on a walk?
Or when we’re doing something other than thinking about the work?
It’s because our subconscious mind is wired for it.
In his book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young listed incubation as the third of five steps for producing ideas (panic and weeping being the first two).
That was in 1939. Today, copywriter and lecturer Andrew Boulton contributes his own verse, telling us that the wandering mind is an essential part of the creative process. In his book, Copywriting Is …, he asks:
“What better example to set for our brain than to allow our legs to lead the way?”
So, I do.
And unless you have a scorching-hot deadline, I encourage you to build a day or two of doing nothing into any job that demands serious thinking. You’ll end up with more ideas than if you’d tethered yourself to the keyboard trying to muscle through.
It always works. And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got the last 374 words to prove it.
See you next time. — Matt
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