Put your pencil down.
Step away from the computer. (But not so far away that you can’t read this).
There will be no word-crafting today. I repeat: there will be no word-crafting today!
Last week, my roommate dragged me to a local art studio. She wanted to paint a piece for her father’s birthday and didn’t want to go alone.
As we painted, I whimpered, wishing the paint to go only where I desired it and not where I mistakenly put my paint brush. I wished the strokes to all travel in the same direction. I wished the colors not to mix, the lines to be crisp, and the shades to be consistent.
I wished for perfection. Since I couldn’t reach it, I felt like a failure.
All the way through, the studio owner encouraged us. She told us to make a mess, spill paint, smear colors together.
I couldn’t do it.
I learned a valuable lesson in the art studio with uncooperative paint brushes: you can’t expect perfection the first time around.
What separates writing from other crafts is the opportunity for a do-over in the form of revision. As writers, we get to take a first stab at our art, decide it’s awful, and try again.
After we finished, the studio owner told us about how children come in excited to paint, to use the clay wheel, and to craft. They’re eager to jump right in with high expectations. A four-year-old was gleeful about making a teapot on the wheel.
It’s the adults who hesitate. The adults who think they’re going to break it. The adults who worry about the outcome. We’re the ones too scared to touch the wheel.
Just like working with clay, sometimes writing takes a little more passion, more risk that us cautious, responsible adults are willing to put in.
True writing takes time, precision, and attention to detail. But writing takes creativity, whimsy, and carelessness. You have to start somewhere. You have to dive in.
Not with pencil and paper but with your hands, your crayons. Break out those paint brushes. Find an art studio near you and throw clay on the wheel, blow a glass vase, get paper mache in your hair, splatter paint on the floor, or tie dye that t-shirt.
Today, choose an alternative medium. Let your mind run wild. I foresee some good writing, some good crafting.
Share about your experience in the comments.