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Is feedback killing your art?

Are you killing your art, or even your life, with feedback?

Or more precisely, the wrong kind of feedback?
 
Does any of the following sound familiar?
  • I get feedback and I start second guessing myself.
  • I try to please everyone by taking to heart their feedback and my creation starts breaking. 
  • I don’t ask for feedback at all because I know I’ll take it personally.
  • I create in hiding to avoid feedback
  • I self-sabotage and ask the closest narcissist for feedback so I can feel crappy about my work.
  • I know deep down the feedback is woeful, but I judge myself instead, which is my default mode.
  • I don’t put my ideas out there and months or years later I realize it had potential i.e now I can feel like a failure, my default mode.
If you relate, there’s a chance you are suffering under the weight of the seductive feedback loop.  It looks something like this;
  1. I have an awesome idea.
  2. Start creating. 
  3. Get feedback.
  4. Others Dump loads of opinions on my new creation.
  5. Confusion sets in as I try to make sure all opinions are satisfied
  6. Judge my creation and abandon it. Very Sad. Start back at #1.

OR

  1. Change my creation and convince myself the changes based on other peoples ideas are making my creation more uniquely me. WTF?
  2. Enter ‘broken-creation’.
  3. Broken heart.
  4. Confusion and stress.
  5. Need help. More feedback?
  6. Loop back to #1 or #5

What's really going on?

As I unravel this ‘feedback’ loop today, I realize it has it’s roots in a fundamental program, developed in childhood, of needing to be liked. It’s a close cousin to the program of needing to be loved a.k.a fear of abandonment. Both very powerful childhood survival tactics that made sense when two years old but certainly not now. As the habit gets stronger, even physical symptoms can develop that include;

  1. Adrenal fatigue
  2. Procrastination
  3. Migraines
  4. Depression

Often we are not conscious of what’s going on. I wasn’t. And to be clear, this was part of my experience, but might not be part of yours. Other people aren’t as ‘wired’ for validation as I once was. As artists and creators, we all have different programming. Some of us can dance, twirl and laugh in a room full of criticism and not care one bit.

But here’s what I’ve found. A lot of artists I know are just like me; sensitive, seekers & healers with a vision and an eternal love affair with ‘the mystery’. We see things other folks don’t see. And that sensitivity comes with a price. 

Insight

Artists bring to light ‘things’ that have never before been conceived, mixed, made, or played together.

Feedback never made me or my creations any better.Ever. Nothing is ever better. Just different. That’s an important realization. Things change, evolve, but rarely are they better or worse, just different. Just like people.

I tied myself in knots for years trying to please people and my creations often died an early death or death by ‘complications’. I was getting more stressed as little came to completion. Nothing was ‘birthed’.

"Things change, evolve, but rarely are they better or worse, just different. Just like people".

Remedy

If you really need feedback I suggest 3 things:

  1. Surround yourself with those who are advocates for your uniqueness. Remember that an ‘advocate’ is a noun, and it’s also a verb. It’s someone who publicly supports, recommends, champions, urges and endorses you as an artist.
  2. Choose a person or two you believe to be both talented and humble. Ask them specifically for what you would like feedback on. You don’t need sweeping generalizations. You need fine tuning. 
  3. Be conscious of where you are in your process. Does your creation need time to gestate or take some form first? Ask them ask them to focus on what’s working and what they’d like to see or hear more of, because we get more of what we focus on.

Remember

There will always be those who don’t ‘get’ what you do. They’re not supposed to. Or if they do, they’ll ‘get it’ in an unexpected way and in their own time. Just like an artist makes her art in a way no-one else can.

Sometimes it happens that you judge someone or something in the world and it’s not until years later it strikes a chord inside you, possibly one you didn’t even know existed before. New meaning is made. Consciousness is born. All because some ‘crazy’ artist wasn’t afraid to put their work out there even when some people judged it.

Know thyself. Know the intention that’s behind the asking. Are you asking because ‘other people know better than you do’. Or are you really asking for approval?

Most feedback will be blowing smoke, so take it all with a grain of salt. Praise comes with its own host of complications, like an inflated ego, being in your head all of a sudden, clicking into comparison mode, seeking more and more validation and on and on it goes.

When I’m creating from my essential self there is no competition or comparison. There’s nowhere to get to. It’s ‘egoless art’. And yes, I believe there is such a thing. You loose yourself. You’re a channel. It feels ‘on track’. 

Final Thoughts

You might not relate to any of this. You may have a resiliency to the opinions of others that I just wasn’t endowed with.

But I am a hopeless empath and I’ve had to teach myself what healthy boundaries look and feel like. I have had to learn to protect my art from feedback of all kinds, the unwanted, unconsidered, sloppy, negative, uncaring feedback and even the inflated, superficial, positive feedback.

The biggest challenge is to let go of the debilitating impact all kinds of ‘thoughtless’ and ‘mismanaged’ feedback has had on my creative projects. We just don’t want to stumble on that abandoned project years later and say to ourselves ‘Hey, that was an awesome idea. Why did I give up on that?’. 

So today, create with wild abandon, instead of asking for permission, ask for possibilities, and instead of listening to naysayers, listen to the sound of your essential self. 

Just say ‘Fuck ‘em’. 

March to the beat of your own drum!

'Instead of asking for permission, ask for possibilities'.

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WOO WEE

Woo Wee [@_OI] is a group of artists and data scientists creating live performance at the intersection of AI and creative practice.

Is feedback killing your art?