The writing process is not unlike that of an incubator: you begin with a spark of an idea which requires time and nurturing in order to develop into a full-fledged piece of work. Constructive criticism is an integral part to a writer's growth, but I think the timing of it is crucial: too soon and the idea will fall apart before it could ever fully form; too late and your confidence is in great danger of wavering. Everyone has an opinion. Art is subjective. Thus, knowing who you are and what you are trying to achieve is crucial.
I've been a part of a few singer/songwriter groups, in which we get together to share ideas, receive feedback and ultimately attempt to better our craft through collaboration. It is because of groups like these that I have made great strides in my writing and for that, I'm so appreciative. However, I've also been a part of meetings where I walked away feeling despondent and completely insecure in my skills. I attribute most of these moments as consequences of bad timing: sharing a song at the wrong time (in the writing process). When is the right time to let someone into the 'inner circle'?
Preproduction for an album is a bit like the witching hour - anything can happen. You need the right people in your corner who will help you develop your material to its full potential; constructive criticism that ultimately keeps you very focused in the right direction. I keep learning this fact the hard way - rushing to share half-formed arrangements with people who aren't privy to the circle. These people have no idea what ideas were discussed the day prior, no idea as to what drives said arrangement, they just hear sounds without context. Ultimately, your songs WILL have to stand alone but not necessarily as fledging incarnations. Thus, exclusivity has a place in the creation process.
I struggle with finding the right balance within my 'inner circle.' I seek objectivity with support; challenge with understanding. How do you find your 'voice' in barrage of feedback?