The first time I tried to use the application Photoshop I was confronted with an unusual creative problem. I opened a new document, a blank canvas, and I had an idea of what I wanted to see on that canvas, but I had no idea how to use all the many, many tools Photoshop provided to actually create that image. So I became a kind of scientist, discovering how this application worked. Though at first I found it a little inscrutable, I knew a couple things right away. I knew that the application would be dependable, that each button would function in the exact same way every time I used it. I would not have to worry that one day clicking the paintbrush button would suddenly delete my file. I also knew I could find help from other people, because each button, each function would work exactly the same for everybody. Scientifically, the question, “How does this work?” is always universally true. That’s part of what makes scientific understanding so appealing for so many. How nice when we discover a truth that cannot be undone by taste or opinion or prejudice.
However, once I’d figured out how to use the software, I was done being a scientist and I was back to being an artist. The question the artist always asks is, “What do I want to make?” For this, there is no universally right answer. My right answer is not your right answer. I cannot answer this question the way I answer the question, “How does this work?” No one else can possibly answer this question for me. The answer resides in a place no one else can perceive.
In my book Fearless Writing I tried to help writers answer this artistic question by describing what it feels like when you’ve found your unique answer. I also remind writers that there is always a unique answer to that question because sometimes when the answer isn’t coming quickly enough we worry it doesn’t exist. But as a teacher, that is the most I’ll ever be able to do, and the most I should ever want to do. I am not actually that interested in what you want to write, at least not in the way I am interested in what I want to write. Fortunately, that is true for everyone. It is true whether we believe it or not. It is what connects us even as it appears to separate us, because the right answer to our creative questions is always love.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence. You can find William at: williamkenower.com