Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Art of Writing

In writing, there are painters and there are sculptors.

I’ve known many painters. They stare at the blank page while forming the perfect line in their mind’s eye. They take their time – painting is meticulous work. And when the line goes onto the page, the words are well-constructed and elegant. A finished product.

I am a writing sculptor. I start with a loose idea of what each line should look like, then slap down a lump of clay and just get started. I form one side loosely, moving on to other parts, knowing I’ll come back and refine what I just did. I allow for the finished product to reveal itself as I work from all angles, slowly but surely.

I’ve learned that writing painters don’t often understand my sculpting methods, so when I’m in a room brainstorming with them, I’ll often manage the their expectations by disclaiming my suggestions with statements like, “Bad version….” or “This isn’t the line, but something like this…” Otherwise I know they look at me and think, “That’s a terrible line – she must know that, right?”

And I’m learning to be patient when I’m working with writing painters, who stare into space while forming brush strokes in their mind, waving away my suggestions with a simple, “No, that’s not it.” They simply can’t start painting until they know the words – it’s just how they work.

So consider your own style before asking for feedback from or writing with another writer, who may have a completely different style of their own. Artistic collaboration is built on a mutual understanding of methods. Finding and understanding those methods now will likely save you heartache and hurt feelings later.

Are you a writing painter or a writing sculptor?

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