I talked earlier in this blog about keeping your plans secret. Don’t tell others what you are doing because they will taint your ideas with phrases like, “You know what you should do instead?” But, there are times in your creative career where you will solicit advice from others. That is perfectly fine as long as you keep one thing crystal clear in your head: consider the source.
We started working on Dr. Floyd way back in 1999. It wasn’t a podcast back then, it was a public access TV show. Even though we were limited by the technology of the time, the whole creative world seemed wide open in terms of what we were able to do. While we were working on the show I began cobbling together a script for what, I dreamed someday, would become a Dr. Floyd feature film. Look, it’s Hollywood, everyone has a script in a drawer somewhere.
Before it was finished I gave it to someone to read and this person came back telling me that I didn’t write the script properly. Not in that it was formatted incorrectly, but that I was “being too descriptive in the details” and that I was, “writing out things that should be left up to the director.” Hearing this bummed me out and I never finished the script because I felt I was doing it all wrong.
Years later, I was thinking about that script and about what that person had said and then I realized that the person who gave me that advice had written a script but never had one produced (outside of doing it for himself). So, what right did he have to tell me I was doing something right or wrong when he’s never done it himself? How did he know I was adding details that would be left up to the director?
Consider the source.
If you’re trying to do something and you get advice, consider who is giving you that advice. If you’re trying to publish a book, is the person giving you advice a published author? If you’re trying to get your first art showing, is the person giving you the advice and artist who has had gallery showings before? If you’re writing a script and someone who has never had a script produced is telling you you’re doing it wrong, should you listen to them? No.
Now, the flip side to that is that if the person HAS done what you want to do, listen to their advice.
I wrote a novella a few years ago and a friend of mine, who is a published author, graciously offered to read it. This person then pointed out several things that could be changed to make the novella read better and I took that person’s advice because they had done what I want to do.
Consider the source. Who is giving you this advice? Have the done what you’re trying to do?
In the end, it is up to you to take ANY advice you are given. Whether it be from someone who has done what you’re trying to do or someone who hasn’t. Only take the advice if it feels right for you and what you are working on.
Do you consider the source when getting advice? Has someone with no experience in what you are trying to do ever given you advice that derailed you creative goals? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below!