Quality by committee
If you work in corporate America, you’ve been subjected to not just the opinions of others, but their weight. Ooph, that’s heavy.
Consider your last project. Chances are you didn’t make it to the end without thinking, “What about my manager’s approval? Will she like this new direction I came up with?” Or “Maybe that other department will have an issue with the creative elements like they did last time.”
The illusion of “your” work
And don’t pretend it doesn’t weigh on you. Because it does. Even if you have a bullet-proof, bite-me veneer, you gotta admit it affects your work. Even if you end up taking the new direction or those creative elements, damn your boss and the other department and the torpedoes. You spent the time worrying, and that’s time wasted.
At its worst, you may find yourself unable to consider your work done until you’ve satiated others’ opinions…and egos. The lower down the food chain you are, the more satiating you gotta do.
Pay (attention to) yourself first
There’s a point where you should consider the opinions of others, sure thing. I’m not arguing to the contrary. But the more credence you give others opinions on your work — whether you have to or not — the less genuine it becomes. The less true.
Each of us, particularly in the creative field, have to feel out when another perspective might help our creation shine and when it might take a sledgehammer to its foundation, sending its quality sliding down the hill and into the reservoir.
Personally, I’d rather have a work that’s all my own, even if it’s not all it could be, than wedge in the wonky and detrimental if good-intentioned “If I were you…” or “How about if…” or “Have you considered…”
How ’bout not.
I haven’t and won’t.
Stephen King advocates writing the first draft with your door closed.
That is, write the first draft for yourself, deaf, dumb, and blind to the opinions of others. Then, made manifest by virtue of your own creativity, that draft is shared with a trusted few, after you allow them in through the open door.
Professionally, you can’t always do that, especially if you’ve a client to please. But when it comes to personal work. Be true to yourself, to your work.