In a recent video interview (at running time 6:35), director Scott Cooper and actor Jeff Bridges hit upon the concept of getting back to zero in acting.

Scott Cooper:

People often asked if I attended film school, and of course I didn’t. And I say I attended the Robert Duvall school of acting and directing. And one of his many directions to me was for a scene to start at zero and end at zero, really have no idea where the scene is going to go, where it’s going to take you.

Jeff Bridges:

That’s good advice.

Charlie Rose:

Start at zero and end at zero.

Jeff Bridges:

So often one of the traps, and it probably goes across the board for other arts, but with acting, you’ll be maybe take the first tape, and it’s very fresh, and you say, wow, that felt like real life. So now let’s recreate that and do that again.

Charlie Rose:

Redo what we just did.

Jeff Bridges:

Yes. And that is the trap. What you have to do is get back to zero. Get emptiness so that thing can happen again. ...

There is a parallel here with getting back to zero in design.

The ability to consistently look at a design as a new user while laying out elements and keeping the project goals in mind. Getting back to zero. An on-going back-and-forth between making design decisions, fleshing out ideas, and seeing them through a user's eyes with their goals in mind.

Being open to trying different options visually, then hitting reset with your mind's eye, and adjusting the balance of the design as new pieces are added. There is certainly an element of acting at play here.

This is not to dismiss user testing. Getting back to zero occurs before and after when one is in the trenches designing in code or an image editor. When there are problems to solve, and several solutions are being thought through and crafted.

To bring a nugget of the SAT's into this,
movie script & plot points : actor :: site requirements & wireframes : designer.

As an actor you know the milestones that need to happen in a movie or scene. How one gets there though is really what separates good actors from great ones.

Through volumes of practice, the ability to get back to zero quickly from a design perspective might certainly be a skill worth improving.

Update :
Paul Thomas, @curiousthomas, was kind enough to supply a Venn Diagram in place of the analogy above :
Getting Back to Zero Venn Diagram
As well as a brief explanation in his comment here.

Let's Chat
What are some thoughts from the Forrst community on the concept of "getting back to zero"? Maybe you were aware, but have not considered it a skill? Is anyone else consciously aware of their ability to do this?


References :
Charlie Rose Interview with Scott Cooper, Jeff Bridges, and Maggie Gyllenhaal talking about Crazy Heart and Getting Back to Zero
Getting back to zero mentioned at running time : 6:35