I’ve been creating things my entire life. From music to websites to (now) books, I’ve found that the creative process is usually remarkably similar. We artistic types have a vision in our head of what we believe our art will become when it is brought into the real world, and because of this we are a picky and peculiar breed.
As we grow as a creative individual, we learn that there are parts of the creative process we can’t execute as well as someone else can — although we still see the visions in our heads of a finished product. This is an awkward kind of thing. It’s tough to give a portion of our process to someone else, not because we’re control freaks (well, at least not entirely), but because the manifestation of the vision is intensely personal. The product we release will be a direct reflection of how we see the world, and no one else can own that.
As I’ve mentioned, in 2011 I was signed with a literary agent and we spent a lot of time going through the feedback we were receiving from traditional publishers. This whole process was quite instructive (although I’m pretty sure most of the best stuff came from the agent himself). I learned a lot through this back and forth dialogue about what was most vital to me.
When I finally signed with a publisher I thought, “Oh good; now I don’t have to worry about all these damn details so much.” This was true — but only to a point. With my publisher, I did have a team of people who were caring about the details along with me, but I pretty quickly realized that it was still my job to make sure everything turned out right.
LESSON #3: Whatever you’re making, nobody will care about it like you do. In fact, nobody can care about it like you do. There’s always a balance between an artist’s vision and the feedback of others. We can always get better at learning how to incorporate criticism gracefully, but there’s also something important about learning how to stand your ground. It is your book (or garden or house or scrapbook or whatever), after all.
P.S. By the way, if you’re reading this and find yourself thinking that you aren’t a “creative type,” I’d like to question that notion. If you are human, you are creative. (Read the second Q/A — and then go back and read the whole article. It’s awesome.)
P.P.P.S. As a blog reader (and someone who made it through a ridiculous amount of postscripts), I have a special surprise for you. My book isn’t yet available for sale, but it just so happens that I have 50 limited edition copies that I am pre-selling. Get one while they last!
Button Pushers & Broken Education by Josh Allan Dykstra on July 11th, 2011
American Idol & My Nonexistent NBA Career by Josh Allan Dykstra on December 7th, 2009
We Are What We Choose (2010 Princeton Baccalaureate Remarks by Jeff Bezos) by Josh Allan Dykstra on June 20th, 2010