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  • June 25th, 2008 | 6:21 AM
Wednesday Writing Tip

Today's writing tip is more about how you think of yourself as a writer. And it's from a gem of a little book that I recommend to everyone at every stage of their career - Art & Fear - Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland. Even if you don't consider yourself filled with fear at the thought of writing I still believe this is a must-read.

From the beginning of the book:

"Art is made by ordinary people. Creatures having only virtues can hardly be imagined making art. It's difficult to picture the Virgin Mary painting landscapes. Or Batman throwing pots. The flawless creature wouldn't need to make art. And so, ironically, the ideal artist is scarcely a theoretical figure at all. If art is made by ordinary people, then you'd have to allow that the ideal artist would be an ordinary person too, with the whole usual mixed bag of traits that real human being possess. This is a giant hint about art, because it suggests that our flaws and weaknesses, while often obstacles to getting our work done, are a source of strength as well. Something about making art has to do with overcoming things, giving us a clear opportunity for doing things in ways we have always known we should do them."

This really speaks to me. And when I remember it, especially  "...our flaws and weaknesses, while often obstacles to getting our work done, are a source of strength as well." I find myself empowered to work on my art.

(Tags: )
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 8 comments — Leave comment )
June 25th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing that, Susan!
June 26th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
June 25th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
This book is my security blanket! It has particularly helped me find perspective in judging my work against the work of others--basically by teaching me how futile that is. I turn back to it often.
June 26th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, it does that for me too. Every time I start to get wrapped up in comparions I go back and reread it. I love how it all applies across all the creative arts, too. We creative folks are very hard on ourselves.
June 26th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Why have I been told about 37 times to read this book and I still haven't? I mean seriously. That's it. Must get. Will read and report back...
June 26th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, you must get this. Even if you are in a fearful place in your writing it is still very empowering.
June 26th, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
I love this idea. In my mind, what I write has everything to do with the experiences I've had. Were it not for the Special Education I received and didn't receive, I wouldn't have been able to put so much into "Stand Tall". What is a touching story, poem, drawing, if not the very soul of an ordinary person bleeding onto a page for the world to see? I don't think we can be effective writers unless a little or a lot of ourselves, in some way, go into the work we are creating.
June 26th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
That's right, we need to use our breath to bring our stories to life.
( 8 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice


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