Monday, January 7, 2013

The Importance of Self-Editing

I’ve said it before, marketing is an art-a collection of arts, really-and the most important skill to any artist is the ability to self-edit.  Without this skill, it is impossible for any artist to consistently create great work.

Self-editing is actually a very simple skill.  You simply have to step back and honestly ask yourself, “Would I like this?”

Just because it’s simple, though, doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Learning to have that objectivity can be very tricky.  Many artists have difficulty distancing themselves enough to tell what’s good from what’s bad.  Their only hope is to create as much content as possible and have someone else tell them what’s decent and what needs fixing until they learn for themselves. 

If an artist never learns this and just continues to create content in the hope of accidentally making something worthwhile, odds are most of what they create will be crap.  Even the stuff that has potential to be good will be crap at first.  Creating all of that junk(I’m getting tired of writing “crap”) in the first place is a huge waste of time and energy for the artist, sorting through the potentially good and the hopelessly bad and then trying to fix the good is a waste of time for the editor/manager/person in charge, and all of this is a waste of money to the ones paying these people.

On top of that, most bosses would probably say, “If I’m fixing your work, I might as well do it myself.  What do I need you for?”

This is not to say that you won’t need someone to critique your work when you get good.  The best way(perhaps the only way) for an artist to get better is to analyze their own work, edit it, and edit some more until they feel they’ve finally gotten it as good as it can be, and then let someone else tell them what their inner critic missed.

This is true of all art forms.  A chef might think their food is delicious until someone suggests a new seasoning.  A photographer might think their work is great until someone shows them a better angle.  A dancer might think they’re graceful until someone points out where they stumble. 

Good artists, however, are able to distance themselves from their work, set all ego aside, and become an honest critic of their own work.  Good artists are also good critics, so to become a better artist, one must become a better critic.

When it comes down to it, self-editing is just testing your work on yourself, and testing is the most important tool for any marketer.  If you’re working for a very small company with a very small budget, this may be the only form of testing a new campaign might get.  This makes a marketer who is skilled at self-editing a very valuable person.

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