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Why criticism is an essential element in the creative process

by Ron Greenfield

Crit·i·cism: The act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art, exhibit, dramatic production, etc.

With a show of hands, how many of you out there think of criticism in a negative context? All right, you can put your hands down now. I had the feeling that is what many of you felt, but perhaps we can look at criticism once more, only this time from a different perspective.

So many of us strive endlessly and tirelessly in getting our work produced – the screenplay, the film, the production, the music video, the game, etc. It’s the baby we’ve given birth to and as the doting parent, in our eyes and to our way of thinking, it is sheer perfection.

However, I’ve also discovered over the years, that any creative work can always be improved upon and there will be certain instances when it’s just better to begin again.

Whatever the case may be, criticism, when it is legitimate and heartfelt, will always have at its core the intention of making the work better. Those are the operative words, the intention of making the work better, with the accent on the intention. Simply put, more often than not we’re too close to the work. We need the eyes of the world, the people whose opinion we trust and respect, to look at our work from a fresh and different point of view.

These are the people who can put aside personal agendas, spontaneously offering their suggestions and know how, all with the primary purpose or intention, to make your project or work better. Sometimes it may include letting go of a character we’ve grown attached to, or deleting scenes that don’t serve the advancement of the story.

As creative individuals, we know instinctively when something is working or not working – the juxtaposition of words or a line given to a character, or the phrase or section that just doesn’t belong with the rest of the musical phrasing. That’s why genuine criticism is such an essential element in the creative process.

You can think of it in this context. The people who are there to help you, evaluate and make suggestions in order to make your work better, are the ones who have the foresight and experience to know the value of your potential and what audiences are anticipating.

At the same time, I’m very much aware of the other kind of criticism, the negative criticism all of us have been subjected to or have been a victim of at one time or another. It still comes back to what I said earlier, what is the intention? Was the person offering his/her advice someone you respect, or was their personal agenda in play?

Ultimately it will be you or I who decide what is most advantageous for our babies. It will always come down to presenting our creative endeavors in the most constructive way and giving the best of what we have to offer. Work that is well done and has substance is praiseworthy because to get to that level means a lot of hard work and gratitude for the people, whose criticism along the way, helped you get there.

Ron Greenfield

About Ron Greenfield

My career has taken me from the thrill of live theater to the sound stages of Hollywood to the immersive aspects of interactive gaming, from New York to Los Angeles and back again. And through it all I am constantly learning what it means by “…putting it all together.” Paying it forward at Aspects of Entertainment. Please follow on Twitter: @rongreenfield1

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