Writers, musicians, dancers, actors, painters, sculptors … we all have some things in common. We’re all artists. We all desire to use our gifts and medium of expression to move, inspire, encourage, and teach. We want to make a difference in how the viewer looks at his life—and possibly the world around him.
When I was a high school senior—many years ago—an art teacher made a huge impression on me. I loved to paint, but although I had some skill, I didn’t have what I would consider talent. However, this art teacher encouraged and pushed me beyond what former art teachers had ever done.
There’s one thing he said that stuck with me. A true artist is never satisfied with his work.
Did he mean that after creating a scene or portrait an artist should rant and rave that it’s terrible? That he should splash paint across the canvas or take a sharp knife and slash it? Of course not.
A true artist should take pride in his accomplishment and see the good in it, but not ever stop looking for how he can improve. He burns inside to always be even better.
I believe this also applies to us as writers …
I believe that God desires us to take pleasure in what we write—in what we create—but to never stop trying to do better.
Have you ever picked up a novel by a favorite author and discovered the writing wasn't as stellar as previous books? The characters were flat, the story was the same old thing. Disappointing, right? It may be impossible to write and turn in manuscripts that are all on an equal level as others. Maybe because of overwhelming deadlines, life-altering circumstances, or burnout. Some books are just going to better than others. God understands. I think maybe even publishers offer grace to a point.
But I don’t think God is pleased when we try to get by just because we can. When authors write mediocre books because they’re popular and their readers will buy anything they write.
My desire is to be a true artist—to never be satisfied—but to always seek opportunities and counsel in how I can do better. What does that mean for me?
- I read books on the craft of writing
- I participate in a critique group of writers I trust
- I read blogs that pertain to writing and the publishing industry
- I attend writers conferences—like the ACFW conference in September
How about you? Are you a true artist? What are you doing today that will help you become a better writer tomorrow?