In the past few years we’ve heard a lot about “living in a bubble,” meaning we surround ourselves with like minded friends and colleagues who look and think like us. It’s easy to recognize when someone else is living in a bubble, but difficult to perceive our own difficulty to break out of our comfort zone.
The same problem afflicts content creators who spend most of their time around other creators with similar interests. It’s rewarding and flattering to get feedback from fellow travellers who never disagree with you or ask you to explain your creative decisions. Unfortunately, this perpetual soft feedback loop can lead to a “creator brain,” where you cannot analyze your own content objectively.
It’s difficult to break out of your bubble and shock yourself out of tunnel vision. When you work hard and long on a project, you simply can’t see it anymore, and you’re blind to its true potential. You need fresh eyes, but how do you do that? How do you disassociate from yourself to evaluate your work honestly?
The answer is simple: context and references.
To change the context, you can literally look with fresh eyes by flipping your content upside down, essentially tricking yourself into seeing a new perspective. You can also “flush” your brain with a ton of great references. Spend time watching high-performing content, then return to yours to evaluate if it’s really on the same level or not. This is a humbling experience, but an effective and honest way to see what really matters. When we work on the details of a project it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Flushing our content with top references helps us see which details are important.
Another helpful side effect of using references during content creation is that it builds muscle memory for lifting yourself out of yourself. I know that sounds a little abstract, but stick with me. You can train your cognitive and creative skills to be on the lookout for high and low performance drivers in content. The more natural and automatic that becomes, the easier it will be to spot those same drivers (or lack of them) in your own creative endeavors.
The good news is that as you develop these analytical skills, your ability to self-correct gets faster. You can apply those learnings to the next project, and your creative output doesn’t get incrementally better, it gets exponentially better. So pop that bubble!
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