Yesterday I was reading “If You want to walk on water” by John Ortberg (still highly recommended!). He told of an experiment done by an art teacher. This was in a ceramics, pot-making class. He said that the class was divided into two groups. One would receive their final grade based on the quantity of pots they were able to make (50 lbs/A, 40 lbs/B, and so on). The other half would be graded only on quality. They only had to make one pot as long as it was excellent. The experiment began.
One group set about making as many as they could–some small, some large. Pot after pot they made pieces. The other group strategized. They studied the art of masters, did preliminary drawings and indepth calculations, and finally they made their pot. Do you know which group made the most beautiful pots in the end?
(Freaked me out too!)
The group that were being judged on quantity also ended up with the most quality pots. Why? Because they learned from their mistakes. As they made pots, big pots, little pots, mistake pots–they learned how to do it better. In the end they were making beautiful, exquisite quality pots. Those who only made one were beset with mistakes they hadn’t anticipated and all their strategizing and studying turned out to count for much less than those who did less strategizing and more making.
I thought this was a great metaphor for my own advice to writers when they ask how to learn to write: WRITE. Write emails, write in your journal, write a novel, write articles, write non-fiction, write every assignment you can get your hands on. But write.
As you write, you will learn. Because there is no final grade for this (and thus no reason to actually make your final “pot”), you can literally spend your whole life making plot point charts and character sketches and editing each paragraph until your eyes bleed, but in the end what will help you to become a better writer is to write. Write, write, write. Edit. Write, write, write. Edit. Write some more. That’s how you learn.
Don’t you love how God takes a lesson from one area or set of people and so easily transfers the lesson to another? He is so cool!
You’ll feel better for the experience!
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