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Opinion and Insight

Kill Your Darlings

Patrick Ronaldson, Founding Partner and Director of Strategy at Rothco reveals the signs of when it’s best to put a stake through the heart of creative ideas

Kill Your Darlings

Stephen King of all things horror wrote, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” A sentence more chilling than any scene in The Shining to most creatives. Look out for the tell-tale signs of when it’s best to put a stake through the heart of a creative idea and go again.

Here’s a few:

- When there are no words to describe how you feel about the idea. Actually no words. None. It's time to quickly and quietly place a pillow over this one and count to one hundred.

- When you tap your Fitbit only to find that your pulse has actually decreased. Time to administer the lethal injection to this idea.

- When you begin to well up with tears. But not the good ones, the ones that come with the urge to punch someone in the face. Go ahead and punch that idea hard, repeatedly until your smile returns.

- When faced with that awkward silence and nobody wants to go first. Anyone. Please. Nope. Time to bag that puppy, add a large stone and chuck it in the canal.

- When the creative tells you "not to worry, the magic will come in post". Empty both barrels, one for the idea and one for its master.

That’s probably enough for now. Be ruthless, be gory, be quick, kill your darlings… and you’ll get to the good stuff. 



Patrick Ronaldson is Founding Partner and Director of Strategy at Rothco.


Rothco have also Zombified their staff, and created a 'Graveyard of Ideas' for their website, where people can browse through the ideas that came to an untimely death in Rothco.