Every creator has to reconcile two very different sides of the creative process: the maker and the editor.
The maker is the free spirit and probably comes most naturally to any creative. It wants to push boundaries, think outside the box, and challenge the status quo. It isn’t concerned with overthinking things, but is simply following it’s imagination. It must be reckless in how it makes.
On the other hand, the editor needs to make sure whatever mess they’ve cobbled together is actually coherent. It must tell a story and serves its purpose. It takes a mass of clay and chisels it down to unearth the sculpture hidden within it. It is a role of strict refinement. It must be ruthless in how it edits.
As you can see, these are very different things, which often result in two outcomes. Either we assume one of two roles or we try to do each role simultaneously. Both are recipes for disaster. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Only wearing one hat
It is pretty normal for a creator to only assume one role, being that of the creator. They make and create, but they forgot to refine and edit. While this is all well and good for your personal process, when you want to share your work with others, you need to polish it, refine it, and unearth what makes it interesting.Creating is fun, but editing is what brings it together. Otherwise, all you have is a half baked idea that isn’t ready for the world.
The role of the editor can’t be overlooked. On the flip side, some creatives get too caught up in the meaning and fail to create at all. The key is to do both.
2. Wearing both hats at the same time
The other typical outcome is that you assume both roles, but you don’t properly separate them. What this leads to is a clash of thinking that is visible in your work. I catch myself doing this quite often when it comes to writing.
I’m writing a post or a chapter and all of a sudden I find myself editing what I just wrote. This causes me to fall into an endless loop of perfecting a small part of my work that may not make much sense when it is seen with the rest of my work.
I blur the lines between writing and editing, but by doing so I handicap my creative process. They are both very different ways of thinking, so naturally they don’t play well together.
Doing them at the same time is not the answer.
Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. Dorothy Parker
When it comes to these two roles, the answer is to do them both, but keep them separate.
Don’t overthink before you create. Don’t try to fix as you create. Don’t forget to edit all together. Do them sequentially and separately.
The ideal approach is to first let your creativity flow. Make whatever it is you are making, without any boundaries or filters or restrictions. See where your mind takes you.
When I write I try to allow my mind to wander and the words to flow. I know what I’m writing is quite right yet, but I know I’m getting closer and closer to what I want to say. Associations are found, new ideas and uncovered, and things start to come together. But I don’t consciously try to organize them in that moment. That’s for later.
Maybe its a day later or maybe is a week, but I revisit my writing and try to make sense and organize what I have said or was trying to say. The fresh perspective and time to let the subconscious do its thing, makes all the difference.
In that moment I know what I need to keep and what I need to cut, no matter how much I may love it. It has to fit. I must refine and edit and discover the truth within my creation.
The same process applies to all acts of creation. You should start with a blank canvas so to speak and see where it goes. Then at a later time you go back and refine, refine, refine.
It’s a balance between having your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground.
You need both to create successfully.