We’ve been indoctrinated to thank people for their feedback whether we’ve invited it or not.
It’s as if we’re taught it in grade school as part of Getting on With Others 101. Just watch an episode of “Shark Tank” and you’ll see what I mean. “Thanks for rejecting me”, the hopefuls will say. “I’ll take it all on board!” Stoic smile.
But it’s a brain muscle memory that can be destructive to the creative process because feedback exists in degrees and some may hold no value at all.
This was reinforced to me in a book by a wonderful author and cinematographer, Steve Stockman.
According to Steve, useful feedback either establishes a trend regarding something that needs addressing or teaches us something we’ve yet to consider that betters what we do. Either way, it’s feedback that’s on our side.
Then there’s feedback that isn’t. It wants to push its own agenda and consequently it’s feedback we can ignore. We’ve enough problems as it is, with what veteran marketer and illustrator, Danny Gregory, calls our monkey—that voice in our head telling us how much we suck.
Both pursue interests different to ours which is the whole point. When it comes to creativity, ours is the only agenda that counts.
That’s why, as Danny puts it, it’s ok to tell our monkeys to “shut up”. Steve, says the trick is blocking this feedback out. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s our best friend, boss or critic giving it. Rather than saying “thank you” it’s fine to say, “no thanks”.
Life is about holding opinions and in creativity there’s only one—ours. It’s our art, our lives. Sure, clients may be a different kettle of fish but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight for our licence and if we’re good enough at it we’ll win for their benefit too.
But the moral is the same. An artist’s role is to impose a personal vision and by showing gratitude for the wrong feedback, our integrity cracks until:
It ends up on the editing room floor.
© 2018 Adam Parker.
Gregory, D. (2016) Shut Your Monkey. Cincinnati, HOW Books.
Stockman, S. (2017) How to Shoot Video That doesn’t Suck. New York, Workman Publishing Co. Inc.