As a writer, sometimes there is nothing more frustrating than being unable to find the right words. That’s our job, isn’t it? Those words are supposed to be our sacred tools. When they fail us, we ourselves feel like failures.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The blank page can be intimidating, the first strokes (be they letters or pencil marks) even more so. I’d like to take a moment and share the artistic process with you, as I believe a visual example can better illustrate the point I want to make. This is a sketch I drew in December 2014. I decided to catalog my progress from start to finish. Look at the first snapshot, and then study the finished drawing. In between that time frame was a lot of self-doubt, frustration, and a pessimistic certainty that I should just crumble the piece of paper into a ball and start over.
With the first few strokes, I could see the image in my mind as clearly as if it were already drawn. The first lines are to check proportions and structure. There’s a lot of erasing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The task is new and fresh.
With the outline of the horse completed, I felt disheartened. In that state, developing it into a creature seemed like an unattainable goal. The initial creative flare I felt when first starting had burned low, and if I let myself give up, those cinders would have been extinguished. I put my head down and told myself, just keep going, just see what might happen. Don’t listen to that little voice in the back of your head telling you to give up.
With the first section shaded, my creation was taking its first breaths. The doubt lessened, and my confidence swelled. The sketch was coming to life all on its own. I was simply a vessel to transfer its essence into a form everyone could see.
And by the end, I couldn’t even remember how much I struggled in the beginning. That was why I took snapshots of the journey, to look back and see the path I had taken. Even now, I look at that top row and wonder, How did I turn that into art?
This is how writing is. It’s not as easy to capture a snapshot of your writing when most of the page is still white. It’s a completely different process of reading, writing, revising, and planning, and you can’t push your chair back and see the growth and development from the first draft like you can with a pencil sketch. But it’s there. Think of that first snapshot as your first page. Your first draft is the third snapshot — you can see the whole outline, and you’re just starting to shade in the empty space, but you still have a long way to go. Put your head down. Keep going. See what might happen. And whatever you do, don’t listen to that little voice in the back of your head telling you to give up.
Your masterpiece will come.
I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first two novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series both received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award in 2020.
After working as a freelance writer for a time, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but credited to a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented under the name of a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience when in reality, I had none of those credentials. Just a talent for writing and the time to research topics. Ghost writing is perfectly legal and a VERY common practice.
You won't find that here on my website. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.
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