Artists are fragile, if one of us wants your help, please treat us gently. Here’s what to keep in mind when a creative friend says, “Would you take a look at this for me?”
1. It is crucial that you ask, “What am I looking for?” It could be, she wants your overall reaction, but, more likely, she’s looking for something specific, even if it is simply a complement. For example, If I wrote something that I think is funny, you will annoy the crap out of me if you insist on checking for spelling and punctuation. (yuck it up!) On the other hand, if I need you to proof, please do so without telling me you don’t agree with me. It’s easy to avoid all the drama by just asking, “What do you need?” Sometimes, we just want to know we aren’t crazy, that the voices in our head haven’t led us too far towards the inevitable strait jacket.
2. Lead with praise and enthusiasm. We do work to get it out of our brain, it would be nice if you treat our embryo like the new born it is. Maybe it does need a few tweaks but, post creation is not the time to debate the merits of the project, we are already invested. Tell us what we did right before you try to help us fix it. (Getting a keyboard to the forehead cut stitched up can be time consuming and expensive.)
3. Don’t assume that this stuff is easy, just because it might seem easy. Common knowledge to us is not common knowledge to everyone else. Assume that we just created something special, respect inspiration, even if it isn’t your particular vision for the project. We may not take your advice, it’s nothing personal, giving you an early look isn’t an invitation to collaborate. Yes, you are creative too, but this is not your baby.
4. If you really think that we have made a big mistake, let us know, sometimes, the best thing we can do is delete or modify. Protecting us from ridicule is, in the long run, a good thing. “Are you sure you meant this?” is a gentle question. So is, “Have you considered…?”
5. Say “Yes and…” Suggest new possibilities, things we might add on or subjects that we could look into to improve our work, just be careful you don’t block us. Creative block is a bitch to get over and know that you could be a carrier. Saying “Yes and” builds on creativity without blocking. Remember, we are in the process of giving birth, don’t tell us the baby is ugly.
Yes, not everything we create is at our highest level. Sometimes, we forget to work deep, sometimes we embark on a dead end. Sometimes, what we create is simply a first step towards a greater work. But, know that we started with an inspiration that should be honored, find out what we were trying to do and then judge us by whether we accomplished it. Know that too harsh a judgement by the people who see our work early could result in us abandoning the project and contemplating a move to the Outback to become kangaroo ranchers.