Hello and welcome to episode 65 of The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. The weekly podcast where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from many different disciplines all at different levels of their career, and insight and inspiration episodes.
I’m your host, Tucker, and this week is insight and inspiration. We talk the difference between advice and guidance.
Last week we talked with Yoga instructor and Country musician Tanya Ryan. During our chat we talked about people getting excited with what you do and saying things like “You know what you should do?” or “You should totally …”. I am one of those people and while I rarely expect them to actually act on my ideas it’s just a lot of fun to be a part of their creativity for just a little bit. Also in the episode Tanya talked about how when she sings a cover song she sometimes phrases things differently than the original performer. In this case phrasing isn’t using different words to make a new phrase it’s just about how the syllables of the words and the melody work together. People had said she shouldn’t do that and I said Don’t listen to them do what you want.So, who should Tanya listen too? The person telling her to not get too creative with her phrasing or the person telling her to not listen to the other people?
As creatives we’re going to run into this all the time. People are going to be offering us story ideas or places to take photos. Ideas for a play or a song. If you let people read a story or see a new work you may not be asking for their advice but they my just give it to you. They may say “I like the ones where you don’t use so much blue.” or “Why are your stories so scary? You should write about …” And you have to learn who to listen too. At first you may only have friends or family to bounce ideas off of. You may have a teacher or mentor of some sort if you’re lucky but even then do you listen to them. I tell a story about my guitar teacher telling me I had to play a cover song I was learning just like the original. Now of course when I flip through YouTube I’m bombarded with talented folks messing up cover songs and making them awesome.
So once again I ask who do you listen too?
First and foremost you have to listen to yourself. Listen to what you want and think is right. It’s your creativity after all. You’ve connected the dots in your head, not theirs. It’s your job to get the idea out as well as you can and see if you can improve on it next time.
Secondly you have to ask if they are offering advice or guidance. Advice is stuff like “If I were you…” or “If I was in your shoes …” or the old standard again “You know what you should do?” Guidance on the other hand often sounds like “I remember when I tried this it didn’t quite work because …” or “I’ve noticed you do well when you do this certain thing have you ever thought of doing more of that?"
Advice: “Everyone is doing this right now so you should too."
Guidance: “There is an opportunity right now that might help you strengthen your skills. It may not be exactly what you want but it may help you get closer to where you want to be."
The challenge I’ve noticed with the internet is it’s filled with advice. "10 things you can do right now to blah.” “Blah your Blah with this one weird trick.” I try to not give advice here on The Spark & The Art. I try to offer things for you to think about to help you guide your own way. Anecdotes from my creative life and conversations that will hopefully give you what you need to get started or get done.
I can offer you guidance to create a habit and do your creative work at a certain time of the day. It’s up to you to explore and experiment and see if mornings, evenings or the middle of the night work best for you. I can offer guidance and say that you should get done and move on because the more you do the better you get. But it’s up to you to decide what to do.
I’m not saying don’t listen to what other people offer and I’m not saying only listen to yourself (because that inside voice can be a real dick sometimes) I’m saying you need to learn to distinguish between advice and guidance, between the excited offering of ideas and someone just telling you what you should do.
Here’s where you get to do some thinking
- When you are talking with other creatives do your ideas leave room for the other person to explore and grow?
- Or, are they more directive and giving concrete ideas about what to do?
- When someone offers advice do you feel compelled to just do it or do you bristle at feeling like you’re being told what to do?
- Are there questions you could ask to broaden their idea from something specific into something more directional?
- I’m really curious about that last thinking point. If you have any tactics for getting to the motivation behind advice someone has given I’d love to hear it. You can get me on twitter @sh_tucker
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Thanks for listening, and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.