Tapping Into The Dark Side

by Sarah on December 22, 2009


Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere.  We know it well here.  In Northern New England, we’re perched on the part of the earth tilted away from the sun from September until March.    These days, in the midst of December, the sun is but a thin sheen of orange shining through the trees by the time the kids get home. By 4:30, darkness has closed in, making us think dinner long before dinnertime and bed well before bedtime.

I often think I should follow the lead of the wildlife and not-so-wild farm animals during this time.  They slow down and do less.  Chickens lay less eggs.  The squirrels are squirreled away with their cache.  Even the trees have slowed the sap down until spring’s warmth and light herald maple sugaring time.

And it’s a good lesson for us copywriters and marketers.  For in order to produce, to create, we also need quiet and nothingness-times.

I use it all the time when I’m working on a project.  Stuck facing a blank page or writing a headline, I take a ten-minute break and go pull weeds, letting my mind drift.  Sometimes I wash some dishes or go for a bike ride.

Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz swore by the creative insights released by a good shave and I know plenty of copywriters who use a good night’s sleep or a nap to solve a writing problem.

Here’s why this helps:

Sometimes when you focus too hard on a problem, you get stuck in your conscious mind’s train of thoughts.  When you take a step away and release your mind from that conscious effort, the subconscious mind starts to percolate up.

And this subconscious mind makes those wild connections that lead to both crazy dreams and creative bursts. For the truth is, creativity is not making something out of nothing. It’s more about creating connections where they weren’t any before.  And transforming the nature of your original materials into something new and different.

Your conscious mind can’t do this so well.

Not only does this work for taking on the ogre of the blank page, it also helps at momentous times of change like right now.

With the new year approaching and the tough economy, there’s a lot of emphasis on reconnoitering and reorganizing.  Anyone with a business to run is putting time into getting ready for January and beyond.

I’ve certainly been doing a lot of thinking about next year’s goals and plans.  I’ve been analyzing this year’s successes and failures trying to gain some perspective.

But Solstice reminds me to take some time and just enjoy the darkness and quiet.  Don’t force the thinking process.  Let things percolate up from the depths and take up some mind space.

In other words, find some ways to step away from all the conscious planning that keeps you in the same tracks (and ruts) and let some new perspectives creep in when you’re not looking.

If there are lessons to be learned from the history of people on this planet and life in general –  we need this time of darkness, quiet and nothingness to regenerate and create.

I’m looking forward to the discoveries and ideas this Solstice time will bring to me to help me gear up for next year . . .

What are your thoughts?  Share your insights and experience with this . . .


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Graska December 20, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Right on! Getting away from the “pressures” and doing what I call a Deep Dive into all I know (but aren’t using) has resulted in some of my biggest breakthroughs.
We all know a lot more than we’re using.
It’s those quite times–when we really think–that allows that stuff to bubble up to the surface. So we have access to using it with our daily needs.

admin December 20, 2011 at 3:20 PM

David, thank you for the comment. I heartily agree with you on recognizing how much we know, but don’t know we know and aren’t using effectively. This is a great time to tap into the wealth of resources and ideas inside each of us.

David Graska December 21, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Following up on this: One time I excitedly rushed in to tell a friend about the great new book I’d read, and that he just had to read it. He looked up from his desk, paused a minute, then said… “David, I already know more than I’m using.”

WOW, I was speechless! I instantly knew it was true… not just about him, but with me, and probably everyone else.

Epiphany! Most everyone, and every business, is sitting on a gold mine of “stuff” they know but aren’t using. And it’s sooo easy to mine, at NO cost, with a simple technique!

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