I read a tweet this morning that saddened me. One of my tweeps posted something about jewelry making being her art form before she started writing. I got the impression from the way she phrased this that she no longer made jewelry, that writing was now her only art form.
Why would this make me sad? Why should I care if another writer gave up another art form she was clearly good at (I looked at her Website, and her jewelry was gorgeous) in order to devote all her time to writing?
I’ll tell you why: because practicing art forms other than writing makes us better writers. I talk about this in my book Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set, but it bears repeating here: Your creative nature is like your health. It needs to be fed and nurtured. Carrots are a healthy food, but your body wouldn’t stay healthy for very long if you ate only carrots, would it?
The same is true for your creative nature. Feed it only one food—fiction writing, in most of our cases—and that creative nature will grow unhealthy. It will see the world only through a fiction-writer’s eyes. To keep it fit, sculpt clay, paint with watercolors, or take up jewelry making. Make a collage. Pick up your camera and shoot some pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is, just so long as it is creative, and allows you to see the world through the eyes of a sculptor, a painter, a jewelry maker, a photographer.
But, but, but …!
A lot of students in my workshops have protested this advice, saying, “But I’m not good at anything other than writing!” You know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be very good; no one has to see it but you. I am partial to making little statues and figurines out of Sculpey clay, and to making jewelry from semi-precious stones. I take a lot of pictures, and recently have started sculpting wall hangings from driftwood and glass beads. Every time I finish an art project, I feel like I can return to my computer and take on the world.
I hope my Twitter buddy sees this, and knows what an inspiration she was to me this morning, when I was trying to come up with something useful to write about here on Smoky Talks.