The Difference Between A Writing Group and a Drawing Group

Abstraktes Bild (809-4) by Gerhard Richter

I few years ago I joined a drawing group to gain some basic skills that might help with powerpoint presentations.  I liked sketching strategic concepts, but I was never able to translate whiteboard sketches into anything that looked halfway professional.  After weekly lessons, I’m now a lot better.  What’s become more enjoyable, however, is meeting with my small group of drawing classmates each week to make another attempt at our surroundings and produce a sketch that either delights or frustrates us.  Either way, we have fun, and while most of the sketches stay in our sketch book, a few successful drawings end up framed and hung on a wall, or given away as a gift.  (Mine drawings sometimes end up Facebook – I’m still just a beginner.)  Nevertheless, despite the challenge and mixed outcomes week-to-week, we all have FUN.

Similarly, I also belong to two writer’s groups.  The writers get together on a monthly basis and chat about book topics. Guest speakers have included authors, editors, journalists, literary agents, publishers, bloggers, and others.  However, while both groups are filled with book-lovers and avid readers, the tone is completely different.  Writing seems to means STRESS, and pretty much everyone laments over how hard it is to find the time to write, how hard it is to put words down on the page, how hard it is to construct a plot or research facts, how hard it is to get published (by a traditional publisher), and how hard it is to sell a published book.  Sell???

The writers I’ve met, seem to have their sights set on a large payday.  It’s bestseller or bust – there’s not a lot of in-between.  E-books and self-publishing have simplified the distribution requirements, so success is more a matter of marketing.  Still, the writers rise to the challenge with their own websites, blogs (note mine!), and other social media outlets.  The task is daunting, but no writer seems deterred by it!

Not too long ago, my drawing instructor introduced the group to Gerhard Richter.  The painter had just had a painting sold at auction (see above) for $34.2M.  The sale set a record for a living artist.  At the time, I mused that I should focus my life entirely to art.  If I devoted all my time to it, then couldn’t I achieve similar success?  I’m doubtful, and am sure most people would agree with me.  Yet, when a writer of similar talent observes the smashing success of “50 Shades of Grey” or “Hunger Games,” then he/she concludes that a bestseller is somehow within reach.  Are they nuts?  Not me!

It probably doesn’t take any more or less time to paint a masterpiece than write a bestseller.  Still, why are amateur writers and artists so different with respect to their ambitions?  I don’t know, but I plan to have FUN with both writing and art.


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