Just Experiment versus Be Judged On Your Best


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This morning the preacher began his sermon with a story about two pottery classes.  In one, the students were told to make pots.  That’s it.  Just practice, experiment, see what works and what doesn’t … their job was simply to keep making pots and, ideally, to learn from that experience.  The second class was told that they’d be judged at the end of the semester on just one pot.  They could spend as long as they wanted on it, could make as many pots as they wanted, but in the end the only thing that mattered was That One Pot they produced to be judged.  The pots from the class tasked only with making pots were the most beautifully made — in fact were much better than the carefully crafted One Beautiful Pot produced by the students of the second class.  Maybe knowing they’d be judged on that one pot, that had to be made perfectly, was too much pressure.  Maybe those students didn’t allow themselves time to learn, they couldn’t relax and just enjoy the creative process.  I don’t know the reason, but I do know that the story struck home.  I couldn’t help thinking about this blog.

I started this blog two years ago to share my travel experiences.  But I haven’t kept it up.  Of course as usual there are plenty of very good excuses for that.  I’m busy … who isn’t, these days.  There are so many distractions.  So many demands on my time.  But the story my preacher told at church today brought home what is one of the biggest obstacles to my writing.  I Want It To Be Good.

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I am ashamed when I read something I’ve written and realize how pedestrian it sounds.  I berate myself for such shoddy writing, get discouraged, find it easier to find excuses not to write.  But last week when I decided to steal time away from social media to pound out some blog posts on anything, without thinking they had to sound good or even, really, caring — and I ended up writing more than I have in months.  It was fun, I didn’t feel any pressure, I didn’t even re-read my posts after I sent them out into the universe.  They might suck but I didn’t care, because it was only an experiment to see how to find time to write and wean myself from my Twitter addiction.  To journal my random thoughts without worrying about how they sounded when typed and posted.

Just like those students in the pottery class that pounded away at their pots.  Over and over and over, throwing pots.  Learning what worked and what didn’t.  Having fun.  Getting their hands wet.  Learning the feel of the clay.  Not worrying how the pot turned out in the end, because it was the process that was moving them forward.  Not being so stressed about making one perfect sentence that I don’t put in the hours in just writing sentences.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll never being able to turn a phrase.  Maybe I’ll never bring a character to life, or touch a reader’s heart, or create a mystery people enjoy trying to solve.  Certainly I never will if I’m so afraid of sounding stupid that I don’t write anything at all.  And if I write and write and write and write and it never gets any better?  Well, I’m no worse off than if I hadn’t written at all.  So I’m going to just throw pots.  Experiment.  Have fun!

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