The moon rose full above the glass pyramid as I walked out of the Louvre Museum in Paris. I had spent a very full day viewing famous works by masters such as Michelangelo, Vermeer, Veronese, and of course, the top attraction, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
As I made my way past the hundreds of paintings hanging on the walls, I was struck by how many of them had been painted over and over, the layers revealed in certain lighting. I asked the guide if that was for a special effect. His answer surprised me. He said that the great masters were like you and me; they made mistakes, and what I had seen underneath the final renderings were the attempts that didn’t work.
We often forget what it takes to become a master at our craft. No one, not even the greatest artists in history, are perfect. And even when they become “masters” at their art, they still make mistakes. They keep working until they have created their masterpiece, despite the roadblocks, doubts, and fears.
The first advice I give my authors is the most simple and quite often the most difficult. And that is that you must write. You can’t just talk or read about it. You have to do the work. The more you write, the more you will understand how writing feels and the freer you will become. When you write often and without limits, you will develop your voice and style. Nothing I say here or in my coaching, teleclasses, and writing programs works unless you write—and write some more.
Believe it or not, I have clients who come to me expecting to write perfectly within days of working together. I’ve been writing for over 30 years, and just in the past few years have I even considered calling myself a master at the craft. Expect to write—a lot—and rewrite, then write some more. I call it diving for pearls. Some days you will write ten pages and come up with one pearl worth keeping. You’ll write two pages on other days, and every word is perfect.
Writing can be a difficult art to master. It takes time, perseverance, patience, and desire. Only write if you genuinely want to share a piece of yourself with the world. But, as a writer, the rewards are great. Writing brings a feeling of power and freedom. And if you do it with consistency, you will get better.
Nobody becomes a master without traveling the path of learning and trial and error. To become a truly great writer, you will need to write!
If you want to master the art of writing, register for my 30-day Writing Challenge. Every day you will receive advice, tips, and insights into the writing life, as well as writing prompts to get you started.
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