The “Stress-Free” Art of Writing

The-Stress-Free-Art-Of-Writing

The creative moment is something that has fascinated me my whole life. As a child I’d watch my father, a gifted amateur painter, set a blank canvas on his easel, squeeze some paint onto his palette, fill his turpentine cup (ah, that heady, pungent aroma!), and set to work. Gradually he’d transform that blank expanse into a picture of a crashing seashore or a country lane or a collection of objects — bottle, candle, peach — that looked more lively and interesting than real life.

How did this happen?, I wondered. How does that peach on that flat surface look more exciting than any real peach could?

Later I learned something about art when my college roommate showed me a drawing she had made of her own hand. She wasn’t satisfied with it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The wrist isn’t right,” she said. She reached over with her pencil, saying, “It should look more like this,” and made a quick, curved line. We looked at the drawing, then stared at each other, speechless.

Because that single, unthinking stroke transformed the picture from a labored thing that looked wrong to a perfect thing.

At that moment I learned an imperishable lesson about making art (which I later applied to writing): the looser, more carefree — even careless — you can be while working, the better your art will be. The better you have a chance of making magic.

Later still, I realized that the reason a picture of something looks livelier than the thing itself is because the picture represents not only the thing being represented, but something of the artist as well. The peach would just be the peach without the involvement of the artist. Together they make art: something totally unique, totally new.

There is a direct parallel between making pictures and writing. When a person sits down to write about an experience, or to rough out the bones of a story or novel, they are interacting with their subject in a way that has never been done before. When you write, you are exploring and creating. And the product is part your subject, part you.

Because writing is an art form, it’s only hard when we believe it’s hard, when we doubt whether we have what it takes to start writing a book and to finish it.

But when you adopt the spirit of a true artist, you commit to the process rather than the result. And the process is simply one glorious, unbroken creative moment.

 

Elizabeth Sims is the author of the Lillian Byrd crime novels and the Rita Farmer mysteries, and she is also a Contributing Editor at Writer’s Digest magazine. Her newest book, You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams, will be published by Writer’s Digest in May. You can learn more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethsims.com.

 

Takeaway Tweets

The looser, more carefree — even careless — you can be while working, the better your art will be. Tweet This

There is a direct parallel between making pictures and writing. Tweet This

When you write, you are exploring AND creating. And the product is part your subject, part you. Tweet This

When you adopt the spirit of a true artist, you commit to the process rather than the result. Tweet This