by Julie, enjoying fall in Somerville
I have two sisters. One lives a couple of towns (actually small cities) over. The other lives in Maryland. My Maryland sister comes up to visit every two to three months to see our parents. The sisters always have at least one night of sister time, and this time we decided to do something different. We went to Muse Paintbar. There’s a bar, and food. And for two hours everyone there is coached to create a painting somewhat like the model painting the teacher is using. We mixed paints, listened to directions, got feedback, and painted. We all agreed not to look at each other’s paintings until the end.
The unveiling was eye opening. The paintings were all the same, but different.
Mine is the one on the left. Not a great painting, but I love it. I also love the work my sisters did.
As I was painting, I couldn’t help but think about the creative process of writing. First of all, even though we had the same model painting, and the same directions, the three of us went in different directions. The same can happen with writing. If the Wickeds all had the same writing prompt, you’d read six very different stories. That’s part of the creative process. Everyone’s work is unique. And that’s wonderful.
The other thing I thought about was how much perfectionism gets in the way of creativity. My youngest sister had trouble letting go of doing it “right” at the beginning of the night. I was dismayed by my stars and swirls. But when we both let go, and had fun, we found our way. The same happens when I write. The first draft is always dreck, but I know how to fix that. When the characters get in the way of doing what I had planned for them I keep going. Maybe they have a better idea. More likely, they want to add depth to the story by letting me in on some backstory.
If I let perfectionism get in the way, I’d never finish a book. If I let perfectionism get in the way, I wouldn’t have shown you a picture of my painting. Finding the joy in creativity means letting go of perfectionism.
Painting at Muse also reminded me of one more lesson from my writing life. Working in community is magical. For National Novel Writing Month, Sister in Crime has four write-ins a day, seven days a week. Anyone can join the write-ins this month. (Sign up here.) I know this sounds odd, but sitting at my computer knowing there are others doing the same thing is a powerful motivator to sit down and write. Being in a room full of people having fun painting is also powerful. Community really matters.
I may tweak my painting a bit before I hang it up, but I’m going to hang it up. It’s a memory of a wonderful night with my sisters. And a great reminder to let go of perfectionism and enjoy the creative process.
Readers, have you ever enjoyed something outside of your comfort zone?