Shawn Tolleson is a career coach working with screenwriters and other entertainment industry professionals. She gives you the practical tools you need to accomplish your dream career. Check out blogs, videos, classes and more at www.entertainmentcareerstrategy.com! Follow Shawn on Twitter: @shawntolleson
Do YOU believe in your idea?
Believing in a project and pursuing it versus when you should let go of an idea that you have for a project, or indeed walk away from an idea or a project that isn’t working…
The first line above is a really important question and there’s no easy answer to it. But I feel it’s very much worthy of a conversation, an inquiry.
There’s a fine line here of what you believe in, what you’re compelled to say or share, and how an audience will respond. Part of this inquiry has to do with how broad an audience you want to reach, as well, which we’ll get to in a few minutes.
The paramount question, I believe has to do with what you want to see. Would you go see this play? Film? Listen to this music? Yes, you want to reach an audience, but what sets you on fire, what inspires you?
Why does it get you fired up? What is it about this idea or project that makes you passionate?
How does this idea make you feel? How do you want to make an audience feel?
I encourage you to write down the answers to these questions. It can be helpful to revisit this along the journey of your process. These original thoughts and ideas can function as a sort of internal compass for you when the flood of feedback and voices overwhelms you.
Once you have these ideas clearly formulated, schedule some time to talk to a trusted confidant. Share your idea with them and see how they react. See if it moves them in a way that is similar to how it moves you.
Then share it with more people. Bear in mind that not everyone will respond in the same way or feel the same things you feel. That’s to be expected. What you’re looking for is where the feedback lines up. You’re not looking for the outliers, you’re looking for the similarities.
As you move your way through the conversations and get feedback on your idea, ask people questions to help elicit and clarify their thoughts. Remember that most people are not good at giving feedback, so you have to listen often for what’s between the lines, what they are intending but perhaps not saying.
Something to keep in mind, and coming back to the original idea behind this TOT, is that you’re looking to clarify what ignites your passion. For you to spend months or years on a project, it needs to fuel you in a deep and powerful way. The process of sharing and getting feedback is to connect you more deeply and powerfully to what’s important to you, not to push you toward what’s important to other people.
This process will also expose the flaws of your idea, and that’s to be welcomed. You might find that this idea won’t fuel months or years of work, it’s too flimsy or thin. This is a great thing to uncover because you don’t want to waste months or years! Often, too, an idea can morph into something else that will then fuel you.
The other thing to listen for is whether your idea is broad and commercial versus niche. One is not better then the other, but it’s important that you assess your idea and make sure that your idea matches the target you have for it. You might want to make something that’s commercial but your idea isn’t commercial enough. These are the kinds of things that you can suss out when getting feedback.
Ask the people giving you feedback what their taste is. What kinds of TV, films, plays, books do they like? See if their taste lines up with yours, and how important that is in assessing your project. If your project is niche, then having similar taste will be very important to the feedback process. If your idea is commercial, then it will need to appeal to a broader range of taste.
Lastly, I encourage you to believe in yourself and your own ideas. Start from the place of believing in your own voice. The form or expression of your idea might shift and change, but if you believe in something, that’s extraordinarily powerful. No one can take that away from you.
It’s important to remember amid the ebbs and flows that you and your voice are unique and special. No one else can say what you want to say the way that you can say it.
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