How playing the Devil’s Advocate can help you find your muse
To play Devil’s Advocate means to look at your creative output with the eye of a critic and to find any potential flaws within it that can be fixed. This allows you to find the weak points and fix them before others see them. Playing the Devil’s Advocate can help you determine if the great idea that you have is truly a great idea or destined for the scrap heap.
Let us say that one day a really great idea falls out of the sky and smacks you on the head….
Like the legendary apple that got Newton started on all that gravitational business, this idea is a really good one and makes you say “Wow! Why didn’t I think of this before?” At first glance it seems like a really spectacular idea, and even looks good on paper when you sketch it out in your “ideas that fell from the sky” notebook.
But, is this grandiose scheme that fell from the partly cloudy sky that is your mind and whacked you on top the head forcing you to starting writing furiously in your idea notebook, really a good idea, or are you just getting caught up in the moment and perhaps a little discombobulated from having things fall on your head time? You have a really good feeling about this one, but all of us have at one time or the other has been burnt by one of the really good feelings haven’t we?
Sure we have
. You think you are on to something, but decide that you better at least take the idea over to the crap idea detection machine in order to make sure it is legit.
Unfortunately for you, the crap idea detection machine is broken down that day and the repairman tells you it will take at least two weeks to get in another crap spectrum analyzer from the plant in Spokane, leaving up a creek without a paddle. You ask him what you should do with this supposed good idea that fell from the sky until then, and he suggests that you play Devil’s Advocate.
“Devil’s Advocate?” You ask, only knowing about the subpar film featuring Keanu Reeve’s and Al Pacino.
The crap idea detection repairman than explains to you that the term came from the around the time of the Renaissance, when the Catholic Church was trying to determine if somebody qualified for sainthood. In order to be fair, they would assign someone to argue against the case of sainthood, looking to find flaws in the future saints character and such that would keep them from achieving beatification. While the actual title was something fancy and Latin, this role was commonly called “the Devil’s Advocate”.
To play Devil’s Advocate with a creative idea means to look at it from the angle of the opposition in order to find any flaws. Playing Devil’s Advocate with your creative ideas that happened to bonk on the head is great way to figure out if they are really great ideas or not without the need of some overpriced crap idea detection machine that always seems to be breaking down. Taking a critical look at your creative output and doing your best to find flaws and then taking these flaws into consideration when you rework your idea, will make your creative output all the more stronger.