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Controlling the Ego

too_much_ego

In my introductory blog, I was asked the question ‘What breeds creativity?’. My answer actually omitted something that I believe to be perhaps more essential than any of the points I gave; this would be humility and controlling the ego.

Image Copyright to Vichi – http://www.flickr.com/photos/vichi/

I remember being incredibly proud of myself when I had completed my first ever script and felt that I had created something rather special. Of course, being my first ever script, it was utter tripe, but I was without perspective. When that perspective came via feedback from an experienced writer, it was not welcome.

I felt incensed that this person had tore my beloved script to shreds; the pain was almost physical and my day was ruined. Needless to say that none of the feedback from this kind chap, who had given his time to read my script and make recommendations, was taken on board.

My ego had been threatened and I put up a high wall of ludicrous excuses with the aim of discrediting this person’s feedback to make me feel better. “He must be jealous!” was one of them, “He’s an old has-been that isn’t on the ball anymore” was another – and there were more, all far fetched, all designed to protect my sense of self.

And guess what? That script got made into a film and that film sucked! I didn’t listen because I was too busy running from feedback that might have been hard to listen to but ultimately would have benefitted the script, the film and myself as a writer.

If we identify too closely with our work, no matter what it is, when it is critically appraised, we put up walls. The defence mechanisms come out and we shut down. Our ego is great at coming up with reasons not to listen to others at times like this, and can breed some incredibly distasteful behaviour. I’m sure we have all been witness to this at some point in our lives…

But the key thing to remember is; we are not our work and our work is not us.

Our work is something we create, something separate from us. No matter how strongly we feel about it, it is not us. To be open minded and truly creative i.e. exploring ideas past where you thought possible, it is important to understand this fully.

I don’t think that there was a watershed moment with me. My transition to becoming a humble, far less egotistical filmmaker came over time, and boy have I benefitted from it! It actually takes a very strong and confident person to accept and embrace critical feedback, for it is truly priceless.

When someone gives you honest, constructive feedback, they are giving you something unique; their perspective. So be thankful and pay attention. You may not agree with everything, and you probably won’t, but that isn’t the point. The point is to listen, consider, explore and ultimately be open to changes and developments.

If you’re experience is anything like mine, you’ll find that you become more confident in your abilities: understanding what you are capable of means you know how you can improve. And improving, be it your craft, a script or any other piece of work, is ultimately what it is all about.

I’m normally not one for quotes but I came across this one from Saint Augustine which is particularly apt:

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility”.

 

About Amir:

“My name is Amir Bazrafshan. I am a filmmaker and currently Head of Production at indie distributors Crabtree Films and soon to be Director at my own business Apricot Creative Video.”

Twitter: @amir_hb

Website: www.go-apricot.co.uk