Jan 10, 2021

Jootsing: Jumping Out of the System

“Breaking rules you don’t know exist is not a statement ... While amateurs may attempt to start from scratch when trying to make something creative in a new area, professionals know they must first get in touch with the existing territory. 

“Before even contemplating their own work, they take the time to master the conventional ways of doing things, to know what the standards are, and to become well-versed in the types of work considered exemplary.”

“[P]hilosopher Daniel C. Dennett describes this process of understanding a system in order to step outside of it as ‘jootsing,’ using a term coined by Douglas Hofstadter. ‘Jootsing’ means ‘jumping out of the system.”

- “‘Jootsing’: The Key to Creativity,” Farnam Street

This quote spoke to me because it describes my philosophy when I switched careers from online marketing to television advertising. I approached my new industry by doing exactly what it says above: I took the time to "master the conventional ways of doing things." For me, this meant studying what I call the 'old masters' of direct marketing as well as interrogating any industry veterans who would indulge me.

Later, once I had become a veteran and burgeoning "master" in my own right, I began to do a little 'jootsing.' But only then. Along the way, I observed many amateurs enter the field and proclaim some version of, "I'm going to break all the rules." None survived.