Thursday, January 16, 2014

When Faced with a Superior Artist

Quote from the Dungeon:
     The Owd Un hastily started trying keys again.  “You’ve got to have a better plan than that, Jacob,” he growled.  “And you had best come up with it quickly!”
     I am sure that this is something that happens multiple times for writers.  You read something that someone else has written and are awed by the skill of the writer...and then you look over your own work and realize that you are not that good yet.  I have even heard writers that I admire sigh over the excellent wordcraft of another writer they esteem highly.
     The question is: what do you do about it?  When you feel that your own work does not measure up to another's, what should your reaction be?
     1. You could give up.  That is not typically the recommendation, of course.  But I presume that you could survey yourself, realize that this is not really what you want to do with your life, and pursue some other expression of excellence.
     2. You could push yourself to achieve the standards you see in others.  Depending on how you go about this, you could either succeed beyond your wildest dreams or you could end up being a frustrated, hopeless copycat.
     3. You could turn your back on the other writers.  Perhaps, although you admire their style, it is not your own.  You can simply say, "I love that, but I will never write like that.  I have to write my own way."
     4. You could simply give yourself some grace and keep working and striving for excellence.  You are still learning, and, like a baby learning to walk, your first steps don't have to be full of beauty and precision.  But you will learn.  Every day you will keep working - not crying over mistakes but finding and correcting them if you can, noticing what it is in other's writing that makes you like it, trying to apply newfound knowledge, and steadily working towards becoming the writer that you want to be.

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