That story you’ve created is very important to you, I get that. You’ve slaved over it, poured your heart and soul into it. Your very being, your essence, is contained within those pages. In fact, it isn’t just a story any more, it’s your baby. Except, when you really look at it, that’s probably the most dysfunctional relationship you can have with your work.
Let’s take a look at it from the viewpoint of an analogy. Have you ever had a friend, a relative, a partner, who has an overbearing parent/s who just won’t. let. go. Who fawn and worry constantly over their child and have a say in every aspect of their lives and think their opinion is the be all and end all? If you do, you probably know someone who isn’t what you would call a well-balanced, independent individual.
Contrast that with a parent who teaches, guides and mentors their child but also knows and appreciates the time will come when they will have to trust in what they have bestowed upon them and set them free into the world – not completely cutting them off but allowing them to stand on their own two feet.
This is the attitude you need to take with you writing, with your baby. You know that saying in relation to bringing up a child, that ‘it takes a village?’ Think about how true that is. There are teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends; a whole plethora of people who help to guide someone. Look at your own life, how many people have played a part in you getting to where you are today. A good parent knows, appreciates and understands how to utilise this. Quite simply, there’s no room for ego when you want the best for someone.
The same goes for writing as it does parenting. Understand that if you want to make progress, real progress, if you want to stride forward, then you are going to have to understand the importance of collaboration and learn to respect the different and diverse roles within the creative universe.
Your job is to create something that is independent and strong enough to go out into the world and stand on its own two feet, and through that process you will have to accept the opinions and help of others, such as editors. To illustrate that point a little bit better, watch the video below –
You see, the thing is, you are not the arbiter of all truth, you don’t know more than everyone and you can always use insight from another source (real insight, not family members). To put it another way, you have to hop off that pedestal you’ve fashioned for yourself, put the high horse back into the barn, and get into the real creative world.
I’m saying all of this because I know from personal experience and from watching other writers that it’s very easy to become insular to the point of detriment to your work and progress.
As someone who started writing because I wanted to write scripts, I understand the impulses that drive writers supremely well. I mean, that thought of handing a script over to then be butchered – you always think it’s going to be butchered when you first start writing – is excruciating. But those are amateur thoughts. Screenplays are blueprints. Screenplays can be beautiful in their own right, but their unfinished and need life breathed into them by a set of talented individuals; director, cinematographer, actors, editors, casting agents. The delegating of responsibilities to achieve an aim is a fundamental aspect of achievement.
As a writer you must learn these skills too. I mean when it comes to delegating, take a look at what even someone like Quentin Tarantino has to say about it in relation to directing, which is something that everyone assumes is the epitome of wielding power –
You don’t lose anything by being open with your work and open to changes and advice, in fact you gain from it. Just remember, it takes a village.