Creativity: Judgment

The first in a series on creativity.

What do you say after reading a script or attending a reading?

I’ve always wanted to write a piece on judgment. We’re all judgmental. It’s a human thing, and how we handle it is a measure of our social skills. It shows how much experience we’ve had professionally, and also affects the quantity and quality of work we generate in our own personal worlds. It’s like learning a new language. It takes time.

The child sitting on the bus says, “That lady’s nose is ugly!” without thought of the affect the comment might have. The intern tells her friends how the office manager could do her job better. And in the same way, people, without much thought, offer expert solutions to scripts they’ve read only once – without understanding the full context of what the script is to be used for or how much time it actually takes to incubate a great script.

“Madmen has a better tone.”

“You should write with a darker edge.”

“It’s too confusing.”

“The dialogue seems flat.”

All these may be true, but just like opinions about the looks or behavior of someone else’s child, they’re inappropriate and unproductive. Even when someone says they want your honest opinion. They usually don’t, and won’t, and there’s a smarter way to have a productive dialogue. This is a learned thing.

I often hear, “They asked for feedback! What am I supposed to say?”

image001Working with a writer, like any long term, complex relationship, takes time. Start by getting to know them and what they are hoping to accomplish in the wider scope of things. If it’s uninteresting to you, fine. Move on. But if you’re willing to go down the path, then just begin the relationship and put in the work needed to make it grow. Ask questions. Ask better questions. If it connects in specific ways to your thinking, let the writer know. What doesn’t connect with you may very well be the stuff of a good question. Don’t pretend to ask a question that is actually you sneaking in your limited judgment. And if you truly have a different way to write, go home and write. A lot.

Understanding anything is a process. On the first date, telling your partner she talks a little too much is not a great way to get a second date. Maybe she’s nervous. Maybe she’s too eager. Maybe she’s auditioning for you. Maybe you’re not saying enough yourself, and she’s picking up slack. Maybe she just talks too much for you, but that will all be better understood in time. Give it some time.


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