When Being a Creative Means Everyone Has a Say in Your Work
“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves” (St. Francis de Sales).
I will never forget the first time I felt the pain of a creative mind being shattered. I was a missionary right out of college, and my good friend had offered to create a promotional video for our organization. It was beautiful and so perfect — I was brought to tears. Some of my fellow missionaries, however, didn’t feel the same. Instead of acknowledging the hours (pro bono) she spent and sleep she sacrificed so it could be an incredible video, they took the opportunity to critique it and tell her what they didn’t like and what could be changed.
I know my sweet missionary friends had the best of intentions when they were critiquing the video, and they probably didn’t think a thing of it, but I gently reminded them that their feedback should be delivered with charity. As a media professional, this was her chance to give back to our nonprofit and show us the beauty she saw in our work with the homeless. She humbly accepted their opinions and took them into account during her final edits.
I assume each occupation struggles with unnecessary or unwarranted feedback from individuals who are not in their area of expertise, but I’d like to keep this article positive and point out the ways we as creatives can grow from these experiences, instead of throwing in the towel.
Find Your Support System
Whether it is your boss, your teammates or your significant other, find the person you can turn to and express your frustration. For example, I always turn to my boss and ask for her help. I work in the marketing division of my company, so the feedback I receive on my work is from my co-workers (we call them partners) who work in different departments
My boss encourages me to defend my work to our partners. She gives me the freedom to stick up for myself if I know my copy is stronger than the feedback I have received. She is also not afraid to tell me when she thinks I could go a different direction with my writing. This feedback only makes me a better writer.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Don’t be afraid to speak up! When someone hires you, it is because they trust that you are the right person for the job. Your client knows their brand better than anyone, which can cause them to be overprotective. However, you are the expert in your work, so you’ll need to defend it and explain to them the thought process behind it.
It’s a tricky balance of humbling yourself and admitting you were wrong, and defending yourself when you know you are right. God wants us to be humble, but He also gave us a gift, and that means that sometimes, we need to stick up for the gift we’ve been given.
Being an expert in your field doesn’t mean you have all of the answers. It means you are constantly learning from your mistakes, developing your skills and taking helpful advice when it is given. Keep looking for new ways to strengthen your skills so when the time comes for you to have that hard conversation about your work, you can speak with confidence.
The best skill you can learn is to receive feedback with grace and love. It is so much easier to become frazzled and distraught and jump to conclusions, but if you can teach yourself to remain calm, you will always be in a better place to grow professionally and spiritually.
Colleen Godinez is a marketing copywriter for a mid-size membership organization in Kansas City. She graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in psychology and a minor in journalism and mass communication. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing and helping other organizations propel their brand. She has learned to appreciate the little things in life and soaks up every moment she can with her little girl and husband. Depending on the time of day, coffee and wine are her drinks of choice. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.