How I built a career around doing nothing

Chief Creative Officer

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.

Here’s a song to play you out >>>

See you next time. — Matt

If you want a fresh marketing nugget emailed to you every two weeks, join here.

Sharing this:
Chief Creative Officer
Matt is a professional storyteller. That used to be a thinly veiled way to say you still lived with your parents. But the truth is stories have existed since the dawn of humanity and they still have the power to move people, even if it’s no longer from the path of a charging mammoth. Throughout his career on both the agency and client sides, Matt’s work has been known to compel audiences to indulge in higher thread counts, abandon Lenten sacrifice, or move to the suburbs. He’ll even conjugate a noun if he has to. The bottom line: Matt is our agency twofer. Strategy and Creative. The Big Idea and Stealth Deployment. He’s a single expense yielding a dual return. And who doesn’t love a bargain?

Our Take

Nobody likes to hear people squawk about marketing. So, we wrote it all down for you.

This website stores cookies on your computer.

These cookies are used to collect information about how you interact with our website and allow us to remember you.  We use this information in order to improve and customize your browsing experience and for analytics and metrics about our visitors both on this website and other media.  To find out more about the cookies we use see our privacy policy.