So the one that struck me the most this morning is about how people give criticism, and our general lack of knowledge around how to do it correctly. While creativity rarely happens in a void, bad criticism can shut it down completely. Here is a copy-n-paste of what I said there. Do you agree? Do you think I am being overly harsh, or have I hit the nail on the head?
~In my ongoing to search to find something out there that will help me get over myself and continue creating, I have noticed something interesting.
But first, let me say that my view of the creative process up till now has been you hole up by yourself. You write/photograph/paint/sew/edit, etc, until whatever it is you are creating is polished and good. Then you present it to the world and get your kudos and praise from regular people and stone throwing from the trolls and voila you have success. I love to get feedback and encouragement as I go. My experience has been that when you ask other people for that what you actually get is thier vision of how your project should be. My mother was very fond of molding anything I did until it was no longer the personification of the vision I had for it. It was then her project, and she expected credit for it.
When I decided I wanted to write I started going to writing groups thinking that I would get the encouragement I needed, only to be shot down horribly by members of the group. Any time anyone had a good idea or an engrossing story, instead of encouraging the writer they would pick apart the petty details that didn’t matter. They would shoot each other down with scathing remarks about things like a writer’s choice in clothing for their characters or pick to pieces the choice of titles. I watched them all do this to each other and left in frustration. This was not helpful to anyone nor was it encouraging. It cemented my theory that creativity is a lone animal.
However, as I read more and more about what successful creative people have to say about it the more I am inclined to think that creativity doesn’t happen in a void. Yes, certain things you have to do alone. But it seems that creativity begats creativity. How many artists have said they saw the Mona Lisa or some brilliant art piece and were inspired to go home and do something themselves? How many writers tell about the daily activities that triggered an idea for a story that developed into a book?
And they also had someone, somewhere along the line, who told them they were good and gently steered them in the right direction.
In my opinion most people, even experienced creative types, don’t understand how to critique. Critiquing isn’t about saying “This is bad. I don’t like it. You need to change X,Y and Z.” It is about looking at the beauty that is already there and making little suggestions that will enhance that beauty. It is about putting aside your personal taste and looking at the project for what it is. Not a lot of creative types do that instinctively. We tend to look at a project and begin assessing what we would do if it were our project.
There are people out there who can objectively critique and help. They can look at a piece of art and explain to the artist why the overall design would fit together better if they used a different color, instead of just telling them the color is off. They can read your story and tell you why this paragraph breaks up the continuity of a story. They can look at your movie and explain why that last scene didn’t work with the rest of the story. And most importantly they can express what they like about a project.
We need more people like that. That is what helps creativity to thrive. Though we can’t change how other people do things, we can change ourselves.
We need to step back and think about how we felt when we first started, and explain our critique in a way that is more of a learning experience than a destructive experience. We need to ask ourselves “Is this really a valid criticism, or is this just my personal taste?
This is how we can help each other through those damned walls. If I had people like that to show my work to during the polishing process, I wouldn’t be so disinclined to show anything to anyone ever. That little voice inside that likes to pipe in with “This is shit. Why are you even trying?” would be easier to silence.
Hmm…well, it’s just a theory. I welcome thoughts on the subject.~
So, that said...Thoughts? Agree or disagree? Why?