Objective Comparison

January 18, 2021

Whenever I try to edit my writing as I go I invariably end up chasing my tail. I can go round and round trying to find the perfect solution to whatever problem I’m working on. I’m mean, really! You’d think I’d know better after all these years. This is especially problematic when I’m doing something new, something that is totally outside my comfort zone. My confidence takes a beating and I begin to wonder if my ideas are any good? Or, if I can pull off yet another rabbit trick. 

The words: frustration, self-doubt, insecurity, depression come to mind. If this has happened to you then know you aren’t alone. Believe me- this is a life-long struggle for every creative person I’ve ever known. We are all perfectionists to some extent so we won’t settle for second best. Perfectionism is a terrific motivator but, without a sense of balance and pragmatism perfectionism can quickly become your nemesis or outright enemy. 

“I might as well go with my first bad idea instead of my third or fourth” 

A strong component of being productive as a creative person is being stubborn enough to get the end of the phrase, piece, blog...whatever without succumbing to the temptation of perfecting each detail as you go. Director Robert Rodriguez told a great story at an ASCAP conference that succinctly encapsulated this idea. Speaking to the audience he said: 

“Let’s say you are all potters (substitute any artistic endeavor) and I split you into two groups. I want Group A to make the perfect pot. Group B’s assignment is to make as many pots as possible. So what do you think the result was? Everyone in Group A failed to complete a single pot and the best pots came from Group B. Why? Art is a craft. The more you do the better you get. There is no such thing as perfect. Art is a journey… what you’ve done before isn’t as good as what you are doing now and what you do in the future will be better yet”.

Sure. There are moments of inspiration. But, without having a solid craft to support you...your ideas will be wasted. Remember: An idea is of no value to anyone else unless you can get it out of your body and make it real in the world. And, how will you ever be able to tell if what you are doing is any good or not?  

“When you are in the throes of creation it is impossible to be objective about your work” 

As a creative professional, most times you are immersed in a fantasy world composed of abstract concepts and objects. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the “apples and oranges”. Here are a few tips that will help you view your work objectively:

Get to the end of your project or process. 

Tough it out and make your idea real in the world. 

Then, step away from the desk.

Shift your focus to something totally unrelated. Take a walk. Read a book. Hang out with friends. (surfing the web is not the same thing… too isolating and attached to work).

 Come back to the desk with a fresh mind.

When you come back to your project you will be in a different mental state. Time will have passed. Your emotions and biorhythms will be different. Almost by definition you will be able to objectively look at what you’ve done. Then you can judge the execution of your idea to determine if you can improve your work or not. 

You might be wondering: “If I am working on a large project how can I recreate the same headspace every time I sit down so my work flows?” This is where having a reliable process is crucial. If you take the time to articulate your goals before you embark on the creative journey then you will have a map and yardstick to measure how much you have accomplished and how far you have to go. My Ebook: “Finding Your Way Forward” describes a process I’ve used for decades with great success. You can download it for free here: 

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