“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
– Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of “Dilbert,” quoted by Adam Grant in Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (2016)
We are so hard on ourselves as artists. But without the courage to bend the metal a different way, toss a rhyme into a line in a novel, deliberately tweak a well-known quote in a bit of dialogue, or take a melody up instead of down, we would never create anything new. We would never truly create.
“There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll – How frugal is the Chariot That bears a Human soul.”
“Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.”
— Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Theodore Roethke (1908-63)
Now, we know the poet wasn’t talking about writing the mystery genre; he was talking about the truths that come to us when we quiet our minds, open our hearts, and do our creative work. May you know that vulnerability and mystery in these next few days.
We all know that showing up on the page, or the sketchbook, or the keyboard, is the only way to get the work done. But novelist and teacher Julianna Baggott points out that regular practice doesn’t just give you more pages or paintings or songs; it improves your skills and flow, and helps create the supportive community we all need.
“While creating pages at an ambitious rate, you’re also practicing strategies that help you block out distraction and get you to the page. You’re figuring out how to carve out time, to refresh and recharge, and then returning to the page. Perhaps you’re also learning how to move between projects. Maybe you’re teaching the people in your life that this discipline is important to you and that it will require some understanding and support on their part. In this way, you’re hopefully working toward a sustainable practice.” – Julianna Baggott, Writer Unboxed 12/3/20
“The first draft is for being brave. Try to save your restraint, and your caution, for the second and third drafts. … [quoting an unnamed screenwriter neighbor] ‘Caution is a thief. It robs the future of possibilities.’”
– Lauren Sancken, associate professor, University of Washington School of Law, Washington State Bar News, Jan 2020
“If you are an artist, it is work that fulfills and makes you come into wholeness, and that goes on through a lifetime. Whatever the wounds that have to heal, the moment of creation assures that all is well, that one is still in tune with the universe, that the inner chaos can be proved and distilled into order and beauty.”
— May Sarton, Belgian-born American poet (1912-95)