Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Be Creative. Make Mistakes.

                "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
                                                                                                                          (Scott Adams)

One of the other creative things I do, other than writing, is drawing. There's something about a blank piece of paper that makes me smile. It can be what I want it to be. I can mould the image to reflect what's in my mind. When I studied art at school, the teacher told us never to be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes can be erased, painted over. Heck, even artists like Vincent van Gogh used to paint over their canvases and start again.

But mistakes are also lessons. Without mistakes how do we know what works and what doesn't?

Look at Pointillism. Up close it's a mass of dots, but stand back and the image takes shape.

(Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886. Georges Seurat)

Art critics coined the term Pointillism to make fun of the technique. They thought it was a mistake. Now those paintings are some of the most visited works of art.

And writing is just like art.

We ready our canvas. Mix our words on the page. We delete to start over. We agonise over tiny sentences and words. We don't want to make a mistake. The mistake can ruin everything. Sometimes we just need to let the words flow. Creativity an writing is about discovery. Taking the story in places you never imagined.

So let creativity be your guide. Make mistakes. They can always be revised later. Who knows, one of them may end up being the most important dot in your word painting.


  1. So true. If I was afraid of mistakes, I would never have been able to write.

    Heaven knows I make enough mistakes to turn me into a nervous wreck.


  2. I always loved that Seurat picture. Great analogy HAPPY CHRISTMAS :O)

  3. I love Pointillism! Funny that it was mocked as an art. It's so difficult to do! I like the yin/yang-ness of this post with yesterday's. Writing is like music: practice as perfectly as you can. But writing is also like art: mistakes can be beautiful.

    Thank goodness for revision (insert shameless plug for my New Year's Revision Blog Party).

    Here's to beautiful mistakes! *clinks glass of eggnog to yours*

  4. Yay for mistakes! And sometimes those mistakes turn out to be something amazing. Thanks for the reminder!


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