TAKEAWAY: Creatives face a difficult decision as they decide when to expose their creativity to a commenter or collaborator.
How do you know when to let your toddler play on the jungle gym with the other kids while you stay seated on the park bench?
Just as a new parent is tempted to lock her child away from the world, a creative can feel protective of the creative output she’s nurturing. Many creatives protect their children throughout their development; the stereotype of the solitary artist isn’t a complete myth.
But many creative works at some point are placed in other hands. That manuscript has to be edited. That musical composition has to be performed.
Even before those steps, there can be sharing of one’s creativity with another. It could be full-on collaboration, which can lead to wondrous results. “Live and Let Die” is a great song, but most would argue Paul McCartney‘s greatest work came before that tune’s birth, when he collaborated with John Lennon.
Even if it’s just soliciting a bit of advice from a friend or colleague, a creative can benefit from an objective point of view. What would hold a creative back?
Fear of criticism, for one. And fear of losing control of the nascent work itself.
That second fear doesn’t have to come to fruition if the creative times his sharing well. Take Tim Burton. I had the pleasure of seeing the exhibition of his works — twice — earlier this year at New York’s . I was struck by correspondence posted between Burton and an artistic collaborator over the wording and staging of Jack Skellington’s introductory musical number in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The collaborator was pretty direct with Burton. He offered rewritten lyrics of the song. He suggested substantive changes in the narrative of the scene, from more distinct transitions in Jack’s introspection to adjustments in Jack’s movements and vocal tone. As a fan of the movie who has seen it several times, I realized Burton incorporated just about every suggestion given, and wisely so.
Yet. Jack Skellington was still a product of Burton’s imagination. The idea of a Pumpkin King bored with his reign? Burton. The iconic image from that musical number, with Jack on the curving outcropping, contrasted against a full moon? Burton.
A creative who is comfortable with the core of her creation should open herself to feedback from other creatives, knowing that she can retain the essence of her originality even if the work itself ends up being altered.
As to the fear of criticism? Well, the definition of criticism does not inherently imply negativity, and even a criticism taken as an attack can have validity. Again, if the creative is confident enough in her output to open herself to collaborative guidance, she should have the confidence to withstand harsh assessments.
A confession: It’s easy for me to say. In fact, I’m writing this post now as advice to myself, because I’ve been struggling with sharing elements of my latest creative work with others. Is it ready? If I allow input now will it still truly be mine? Do I feel it’s strong enough to withstand review?
What if someone hates it?
Ultimately the creative needs to decide in his own heart when the time is right.
Do you have an example of when and how you knew the time was right to share your creativity? Are you holding something back now and wondering if you’re right to do so?