Somebody asked a master painter how to paint a perfect painting. He answered, “To paint a perfect painting, first become perfect, then paint.”
So, I translated, to write a perfect story, become perfect then write.
I labored over this advice, judging how far from perfect I was, and wondering how far from perfect one could be and still create a masterpiece. And I considered that what I know about certain writers of masterpieces makes me believe they were not much more perfect in a human or spiritual sense than I am.
I decided the advice made no sense unless we interpret it this way: It’s not essential to our writing that we be perfect, or even close, all the time, only when we’re writing.
When we sit down (or stand up, or pace around) to write, we need to cast off imperfections such as our tendency to rush to judgment, our impatience, our preconceptions, our worries about whether we’re going to succeed.
We need to clear our minds of anything that keeps us thinking or feeling out of accord with the fruits of the Spirit as described by Saint Paul, and try to approach our stories from an attitude of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Then we can treat our creations with deep respect and compassion. Even if we don’t approach perfection for a nanosecond (most of us probably won’t) the closer we come, the closer our creations may come to realizing their possibilities.
And the process of writing (or gardening, or fiddling) will be a spiritual exercise that draws us closer to what God would have us become.
Find more wisdom in Writing and the Spirit