Often those closest to a problem fail to see the solution because they’ve lost perspective. These tips are applicable to any creative professional – video editors, photographers and designers – and will help you produce inspired work.
Being able to keep a fresh perspective on your own creative work is critical to being able to evaluate what is working and what really isn’t. Often this is a problem for ”one-man-band” outfits where one person is doing every job on a project. The director who also shot, wrote, edited, scored and sold the film may not have done the best job of critiquing things. Or as the case might be with video editing, you simply can’t bring yourself to cut out those bits that you love, that took hours of love and time to create, but are ultimately hurting the overall project. This post was inspired by the excellent discussion on the latest episode of That Post Show hosted by Kanen Flowers, in which one of the editors said that he ‘flopped‘ the entire film, just to see it from a new angle.
1. Take a Break
In this fast paced digital world where everything happens instantaneously there is often precious little time to stop and think, to ponder, consider, ruminate, pontificate and mull over. As a result I think a lot of creative work comes out being less than it could have been. So next time you hit a brick wall, take a break. Get up and go for a walk – outside and not just to the coffee pot. Think about something else, do something else. If you can, sleep on it. Getting away from the problem means you’ll tackle it in a whole new way next time you approach it. As they say in the Mark Walberg movie Shooter ”Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
2. See It Through Another Person’s Eyes
I find this especially true of film editing. Whenever I sit in with someone else watching what I’ve made I immediately see all the things that are wrong with it. I take on what I imagine to be their more critical perspective. Things that don’t make sense, jokes that don’t work, bits that drag – all these things becoming increasingly more clear. Putting your work in front of a fresh set of eyes, ones unconnected from the project in any way (preferably no emotional or financial investment in it!) helps you see it as if for the first time. That is worth any price of pain or embarrassment. Photo by bogenfreund.
3. Talk About It With Others
Often a fast way to problem solve is just to discuss it with someone else. They’ll hopefully ask questions you’ve never thought of or give you great ideas (for free). Even more simply, they may help you come to your own solutions because you’ve had to articulate and explain the problem to someone else. The best way to get good information is to talk to those who will be brutally honest with you, without being opinionated for opinons sake. You also need to ask targeted questions that aren’t leading questions. Don’t ask – ”Did you notice this specific problem?” Instead ask ”Did anything not work for you?” or “Was there anything you’d like to change?” The thing to avoid is people just reinforcing your own views because of the way you’ve gone about seeking the answers.
4. Take It Somewhere New
Because of digital technology everything is portable. In the days of analog film taking a whole feature home to view on your sofa rather than in the cutting room would have been cumbersome, if not impossible. These days you can take a sample of your work home and watch it in a different environment. Heck, even sitting in a different chair helps me see things differently. Take your work and put it somewhere new. What does your new context reveal about your work that you couldn’t otherwise see?
5. What would happen if….
I have a friend who runs a successful creative agency that is quite new. Currently a lot of their work comes from one or two main clients. Recently he’s started writing a business plan based on the question ”What would happen if they disappeared?” I think this is an excellent question to ask. What would happen if the main part of your project was taken out. What if a scene came out, what if the colour changed. What if…what if…
Often trying things that would normally seem absurd can shift your perspective on what is really necessary and what is just filler. If you’re in need of a fresh perspective - experiment.
How do you keep your creativity fresh?
Share your thoughts/comments/advice in the comments below!