I originally drew a version of this cartoon back in 2006 and it’s still one of my more requested and licensed. There’s an ad agency in Australia that has a wall-sized version hanging in the room where they review creative with clients. I wanted to redraw it in color and make it easier to read.
I’ve seen all of these types of creative critics and I’ve been guilty of many of them myself. Learning how to give creative feedback (and how to deal with creative criticism) is one of the most important skills in marketing.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to spend a day sitting in the writers’ room of a network TV show (co-created by my cousin). I’d always wanted to see a writers’ room in action, particularly to study their creative process (and how they deal with criticism). They have to crank out a new episode every 8 days and there’s a huge group of stakeholders weighing in on every word.
It struck me that there’s a lot an agency or marketing team can learn from a writers’ room. Every business experiences friction between creating and critiquing ideas. A writers’ room is like a masters class on the creative process.
Some of my observations from watching a writers’ room for a day:
Creativity is personal. If the ideas are going to be worthwhile, creators have to put themselves out there.
Ideas aren’t precious. You have to grow a thick skin and not take the feedback personally (hard to do when creativity is so personal).
Respect is essential. Especially when people disagree, mutual respect has to underlying the feedback or it breeds resentment.
Ideas aren’t born perfect. One writer may take the lead, but it takes a room to write a script.
Know when to push back. With so many cooks in the kitchen, writers have to navigate a lot of contradictory feedback. They pick their battles.
Find creative solutions to constraints. There were constant hurdles and setbacks to overcome. A production budget might suddenly limit where to set a particular scene, so writers have to rethink why the scene might be somewhere else.
The secret to quality is quantity. The versions and revisions of every script makes the ideas stronger.
Creative executions in an organization are shaped by many hands. I’d love to hear your ideas on how best to give and receive creative feedback.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
Here’s a quick sketch I drew of the writers’ room: