Perfectionism vs. Communication.

Today I’m sharing a quote that was initially stated about visual art, but, as I have observed before, art quotes are astonishingly cross-platform things. For writing purposes, simply replace the word “color” with “word”, “phrase”, or whatever other aspect of writing you wish.

“…art is not something that is learned and then practiced, it is a form of communication and one is always trying to say something clearer. To love and to be honest, maybe one does not exist without the other and a desire to communicate that, this is what it takes to make art.

Start by putting down the one color that excites you the most, then the next, relating it to the first. This is the relationship that excites you the most. Then the third color, relating it to the whole. You are emphasizing what interests you and minimizing other things by putting them in the service of your true passion and leaving out altogether what distracts. Keep it simple.”

-Ken Kewley

One of my common struggles, and probably one many beginning writers share, is knowing exactly what to emphasize in a story. Life tends to be one big ball of confusing tangents, and sometimes it’s impossible to see the “plot” until you reach a sort of “scenic viewpoint” and can look back at the road you have already traveled.

If that was how we approached our writing, it would take a lifetime to get any story written, and they would all be so full of rabbit trails and unimportant characters that readers would give up before they had read more than the first few chapters. But if we follow Ken Kewley’s advice, and simply strive to get the thing that most interests us down first, and then make sure everything else relates to that point, everything should fall into place. That way, we can keep it simple, and make sure we’re communicating clearly.

The other aspect of this quote that I enjoy is when he says that “art is not something that is learned and then practiced”. For perfectionists like me, there is a constant feeling that we should be able to learn the technique, and then get it right on the first try every time.

Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha HA HA HAAAA!

As if.

In spite of my little shoulder demon of perfectionism, I have a little shoulder angel that loves a challenge.


That shoulder angel thinks the challenge of communicating an idea in the simplest, clearest way possible is the best thing ever.

So I think I’m going to listen to the angel this time.




2 thoughts on “Perfectionism vs. Communication.

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