Writer Dean Wesley Smith wrote a post in late 2018 called Critical Voice Kills Everything. Apparently some people get so critical that they read to pick a book apart, even if it’s from an author who’s mega successful in their writing.
He recommended the following practice instead:
“Second, on a book you LOVED, ask yourself how an author did something in the book that you admire. A craft bit, a pacing, a dialogue scene, whatever. […]
If you liked the plot, outline the book to take that in more. […] You never tear apart someone else’s work, you study it for what they did right. A HUGE DIFFERENCE.”
I chewed on this for a while and later formed this reply:
Thinking back on [the above] part of your post this morning I realized this part fits in really well with how I try to improve as a visual artist. Find work/artists you love, study what they did and how they did it, and adopt the things you like into your own work through practice. You’d ***never*** study a master artist to nitpick him/her!
(And if artist X does feature Y really well or often, but not Z…then you find another artist who does Z well and adopt them, too! Choose from the whole buffet of artists!)
In related news, a fellow Mastodonner posted this great quote from the legendary Phil Tippet (pardon the language at the end)
My increased writing output of the last couple of years is the result of by heeding advice like the above: don’t noodle something to death! Better to do the best you can at the time, get it out there, and start on the next fun project.
Super artist Noah Bradley once posted this on his Mastodon feed:
Sketches are a really important part of my process. Until you’ve done an actual sketch, there’s almost no way to tell if an idea is worth pursuing.
So sketches are a low-investment way to trial an idea. If one turns out particularly well, I can spend the 20-30 hours to finish it up.
I’m glad he posted this, because my reply helped me articulate a lesson I’d learned earlier in the year:
I’m finally waking up to this idea (esp in thumbnailing towards a specific end). Often I have a great idea in my head. While it’s up there, the ideal image is too amazing for me to even try and tackle. But if I start thumbnailing and playing, suddenly the abstract is concrete, and when it’s concrete, I can see what needs to be done to get the piece going where I want it. Thanks for your terrific reminder.
Absolutely. It’s so easy to stay stuck in your own head and get so wrapped up in thinking an idea is perfect without actually making it.
It’s not perfect, but it does what I want.
I came across this quote on my Mastodon.art feed many months ago, attached to what I thought was a very cool picture. I boosted it, but also had the presence of mind to write it down on a Post-It note that I stuck above my computer*.
As far as I’m concerned, it deserves to be listed alongside the greatest art quotes of all time.
I come back to frequently. Because as a perfectionist-in-recovery it’s so easy to want to noodle and noodle (or sometimes NOT EVEN START) on a piece until you feel it is “perfect.”
But “perfect” isn’t the point, not to the viewer. The point is to evoke something.
Lots of things I enjoy evoke joy or laughter or awe or mystery without being absolutely flawless. (And sometimes, the flaws even add to my reaction!).
This quote’s helped me say, “You know what? I could noodle/add/whatever a ton more on this, but at this point, IT’S DOING WHAT I WANT. So even though it’s not technically perfect, I can be satisfied with it.”
And then I get to move on to the next thing!
*I didn’t write down the original speaker, though! If you’re the originator of this quote, I’d be delighted to credit you!