Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why is Painting More Fun than Writing?

I have a friend who is a writer. She's good at what she does.
She took up knitting. And for a while it seemed that she had traded being a writer for being a knitter. But now, she's back to the writing and the knitting is a fun little side thing.

Another writer friend, who is good at what she does, took up crochet. She made a bunch of hats instead of writing. But now, she's back to the writing and the crocheting is a fun little side thing.

Me? I've taken up painting. Art. I love it. I'll paint something and show it to the world on FB. "Look what I made!" Like a kindergartener. "I made this!" And they can like it or hate it and I don't really care a lot because I had so much fun creating it.

When I'm trying to fall asleep I'll think about what I want to paint the next day. I can't wait. I'm so excited.

I've never felt that way about writing. And you know what? Something I realized, or was finally willing to admit: I'm good at writing. And yet, it terrifies me.

Why? What's the difference? Both writing and painting involve putting bits of myself onto the paper. Both of them expose me for criticism or rejection.

Is it because when I paint something, that's it? It's painted. I don't have to think about submitting it to someone who may reject it. And even if they do accept it, they then have to pass it on to someone else who may reject it, as is the case with writing.

No, I don't think that's it. Because I could choose to go the Indy publishing route and eliminate those factors. But that doesn't feel any more comfortable to me.

Why does writing scare me, but visual art doesn't?

I want to have the same passion and fun with my writing as I do with my painting. It seems to me that they shouldn't be that different.

What do you think? And if you are a writer, have you find yourself sidetracked by other creative pursuits?


  1. As the friend who got sidetracked by crochet, I have pondered this very same thing, and I don't know the answer. But I have a few theories...

    1) Crochet is a little like math. There's a pattern, an answer, and it's fairly objective. If I set out to make a hat, I pretty much come up with a hat. If I come up with a scarf, it's clear something went wrong. I don't have those clear parameters with my writing. (Although this point doesn't apply to painting.)

    2) I know I'm good at crochet. I don't need someone to tell me I'm good at it. I can look at my work compared to a beginner's work and see, objectively, that my stitches are uniform and neat, my gauges are pretty close to correct, and I used a double crochet where I was supposed to use one. It's not so clear with writing.

    3) I don't have as much emotionally invested in crochet. I think this is the point that applies to your painting, maybe? I don't feel like I've poured heart and soul into a hat. It's just a hat. It was something I did to entertain myself for a few hours. And since I've decided not to sell anything, there's nothing riding on it. It's not like I'm hoping someone will buy the hat. If I can't give it away to a friend, I can always give it to a charity. It served its purpose--it entertained me for a few hours.

    4) Creativity is creativity, and making something else besides a story builds the creative muscle. At least this is my hope. I find my mind wandering into flights of fancy when I crochet, so maybe entertaining myself with crochet projects will help me break through my writer's angst. Again, this is my hope.

    I love your paintings, Kay. They inspire me. And I admire you for posting them for the world to see. :)

  2. Ack! Sorry that posted twice. Blogspot does weird stuff sometimes....

  3. I think some there is/are a/some difference(s)(I don't know yet if what I have to say is plural or singular.) You are more invested in your writing than you are in your art. You've worked at it longer and harder, cared longer. I think one of your purposes in writing is to have it published. Therefore, the writing innately includes forthcoming criticism and acceptance or rejection that truely matters to you. With your art, you are not expecting to have anyone look at your art who is in a place of power of criticism who will determine if the art is good or bad, worth something or not. As a matter of fact, you are really only trying to mostly please yourself. I think if you did not ever plan to show your writing to anyone and if you didn't have high expectations of yourself on your writing, it could be just fun like the art. But I personnaly don't think the writing has to be on the same level as your art. It's more important and takes more effort. Maybe these things I've said are true?? Paula

  4. I love this question. I love that you asked it. I love that you even thinking it. I spent a weekend doing both visual art (painting) and writing poetry. I liked painting because it was new and different and fresh. A change from just wrestling intellectually with words. It was sensual, it involved sight, touch, sound. I wasn't creating a best seller. I was exploring my creative potential. It was play. Writing, on the other hand, I hadn't approached as "play" and so it never seemed fun. It was often frustrating and dark, sometimes fulfilling and satisfying, but not fun.

    I don't know if approaching writing as play would make any difference for me. My time is limited since I hold a day job, but I get to write sometimes in my job, I never get to paint in my job. I think things that involve the five senses are easier to play at.

    If my goal is to write a best seller, that is a heavy burden. You've painted pictures without expectation, you just went at it and had fun. You can't sell that one painting to thousands of people (well, I guess you could sell prints) but a book - ah, a book we want half the world to love.

    After rambling about this, now I'm thinking I want to go back and start playing more with my writing. Does any of my external processing here resonate with you? What are you thoughts about art being play vs. writing being work?


  5. All of you have hit on good things.
    Painting does exercise my creativity muscle and I think a lot more about my book when I'm painting regularly than when I'm not doing anything creative.

    I probably do have a lot less invested emotionally. Even though it comes from my heart and my mind, paintings seem less substantial too me.

    I think that probably I don't need to be expecting them to be the same. I do expect more from my writing. I expect it to mean something and go somewhere. That would obviously suck some of the fun out of it. I sure would like to enjoy it more, though. Not many people get to feel the same way about their job as they do their hobby, I guess. And even though I'm not getting paid, I've put the writing in a category like a job.

    When I wrote my Nano book I really just played with it and it was fun. I didn't expect anything from it except a lot of words. So, I guess the bottom line really is the expectations. It's harder to play and relax and enjoy something that you have high hopes for...


I love to hear your thoughts!