When Art Takes Years to Complete

About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.

I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.

That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!

In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.

For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.

In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works.

Even though ideas for new blog posts are constantly running through my mind, the timing is not always conducive to sitting down and developing them into complete blog posts right away. All I can do is jot down the idea on an index card and file it away for a rainy day.

When I finally do sit down to write out a first draft based on that idea, it could be a day, a week, a month or even a year later. It all depends on when time permits and when inspiration strikes.

Will that first draft turn out exactly as I had envisioned on the first attempt? Will I have the perfect wording on the first draft? Will the post say exactly what I want in the first draft? Of course not.

Will there be room for improvement on the first draft? Of course there will.

And I admit that there are times that I might run out of steam after 300 words and start wondering where I was going with the idea. It’s a little like walking into a room and forgetting why you went there in the first place. (… or is that just me?)

Sometimes, the idea just isn’t viable for a quality blog post, and that is perfectly fine.

Sometimes I need to see a first draft to decide that it needs to be buried in “The Graveyard of Blog Posts”.

And other times, a first, second or third draft might be good, but there’s something missing. In the moment, or even in the following days, I might not know what it is, but I need to let it sit on the backburner until I figure out what it is.

And then when I least expect it, inspiration strikes! In some cases, it could be the trigger to apply a few finishing touches to make a post complete. Sometimes it means a little editing. Sometimes it means a lot of editing.

Sometimes it is the ever-changing world, its influences and its evolving perspectives that lend themselves to coming up with the right words that weren’t there when the original spark of creativity happened.

Just recently, three unfinished blog posts were chopped up and merged together into one post (“So What If I’m Not a Car Person”) that finally worked and said exactly what I needed and how I wanted to say it… but those first three drafts needed to be written for me to make the connections to generate the finished product.

To me, the trajectory of the creative process is rarely a straight line. It is a process that I equate to driving through a construction zone with all of its twists, turns, detours, and merging. Much like driving through construction, it can be a slow process.

And the number of times I used the word “sometimes” in this post also demonstrates that it is not an exact science either. Creativity cannot be planned, rushed nor does it follow a standard operating procedure.

Creativity can’t be ordered up like a pizza.

At first, I was concerned with the number of unfinished ideas I was accumulating, but after 5 years of blogging I realize that this is perfectly fine and just part of the natural ebb and flow of the creative process. Instead of seeing unfinished posts, I now see them as an inventory of great ideas whose time hasn’t come yet.

Plus, when I factor in life, career and my day-to-day responsibilities that may keep me from the keyboard, taking months or years to complete a specific blog post should not be such a curiosity after all when I am proud of the end result.

For art to be meaningful and to connect on a human level, good ideas take time.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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1 Comment

Filed under Writing

One response to “When Art Takes Years to Complete

  1. lydiaschoch

    This was a great post. Thanks for sharing it. I, too, have a graveyard of posts.

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