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Other Art

February 16, 2010

We’ve talked about the creative well in the past—the need for a writer to absorb the writing of other authors to help recharge their own creative battery. Of course, the creative well is not limited to the written word. And of late I have become interested in the way the other forms of artistic expression interact with, and affect, our writing.

I’ve known many writers in my (nearly) 40 years, and none of them (that I can think of) have limited their creative pursuits to writing. To an extent, I think this is because writers are by natures dabbler and explorers. We want to understand a little bit about everything. In part this is because we want to be able to create authentic, believable, settings. But I think we also just like to know how things work.

But how do we use these different artistic outlets, and how do they affect our writing?

A surprising number of authors are visual artists. In my non-scientific observation drawing seems to be the most common media, with a fair number of painters thrown in for flavor. These seem almost natural extension of writing. They can paint a scene with words, then with colorful brushes. I have no talent when it comes to things like drawing or creating visual images, but I have found a certain relaxation in designing websites.

What about music? I’ve always been very interested in music—and fascinated by those skilled at creating it. In recent years I’ve become a dabbler in musical instruments (piano, guitar, bagpipes and most recently harmonica). But I don’t just play around with instruments for fun—sometimes there is an energy inside me that doesn’t mesh well with words, and by attempting to learn an instrument, I’m searching for a way to express it.

So what about you? What other arts do you practice? How to they affect, or react with, your writing? Do they make you a better writer? Does writing make you a better artist?

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One year ago today my family lost a close friend. We miss you Rob. And I’m doing my best to look after your boy.
  1. February 19, 2010 12:40 pm

    Great article. I find painting, the tactile use of color especially, to really help access my unconscious and bubble up inspiration for my writing.
    I love your blog–so much great information. If you get a chance, check mine out as well at and let me know what you think!


    JA Howard Writing and Editorial

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