Is it possible to be totally objective about your own work when there is personal creativity involved? No. Total objectivity is impossible. But you may be able to evaluate your efforts with partial objectivity by following these suggestions.
- Give it time. Unless you are facing an immediate deadline, give your work a rest. Let is sit for 24-48 hours, then come back and read, watch or listen to what you’ve produced. Your eyes and ears will observe the work differently when there is some time distance from the work’s creation period.
- Adopt the mindset of the person or group who will consume your work. You cannot know who will read your writing or hear your music or land on the website you designed. Unless you are part of the target audience, you may not be able to know their likes and inclinations. But you can speculate and this guesswork may help inform your content and attitude.
- Make it a team effort. By including a partner or partners during the assembly of the content, you can get input that may provide guidance. Even a minor tweak can give your work a new flavor or direction, which might allow you to see it in a new light.
- Observe your work in its ultimate setting. Send a test marketing email, post that copy or illustration to your website, share that video via Youtube. I’ve redone numerous radio spots that sounded good in the studio but were lacking when heard through my car speakers. I’ve rewritten several posts to blogs that somehow were different after making the jump from a Word doc to web content.
When listening now to broadcast interviews I conducted 6, 8, 10 years ago, I am well beyond that moment when I was conducting or editing the conversation. I am pleased with most of my efforts, but I often cringe when I consider questions I failed to ask.
I recently found a letter I had composed earlier and was able to appraise it objectively. My penmanship was excellent, my use of a Flair pen questionable and the writing efficient, though not particularly memorable. I had sent the letter to my grandparents 38 years ago.
Evaluating your own work is not easy when there is an element of creativity involved. Empirical stats like hits, opens, clicks, ratings and sales provide insight. But the final verdict comes from within your own heart and head.