“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Chuck Close
Chuck Close, an accomplished photographer and artist, has been sharing this no-nonsense advice with a lot of people, including at-risk kids through “Turnaround Arts,” a program that brings the arts to schools where kids are under-performing. What a fantastic idea!
“Art saved my life,” Chuck tells them — and he believes in its power to do the same for others. As a kid himself, he struggled with neurological disabilities that made it tough for him to write. So he took another path. Instead of handing in a paper in history, he drew “a 20-foot-long mural of the Lewis and Clark trail.”
Afflicted with a condition that affected his ability to recognize faces, Chuck said, “I figured out what I had left and I tried to make it work for me, Limitations are important.” Two other messages he delivered: Break the rules and use limitations to your advantage.
Use limitations to your advantage: now, that’s advice worth pursuing! As writers, we face lots of limitations: lack of time, lack of academic training, lack of plot savvy, lack of dialogue-writing skills, lack of agents and publishers — I’m sure you can add a few more. We can let these limitations constrain us or we can use them to inspire and energize us. The choice is ours. Every day.
Breaking rules and using limitations to our advantage — these are ideas tailor-made for writing dangerously. So is the no-nonsense advice: Don’t wait for inspiration, “just show up and get to work.” Bravo, Chuck! And thanks for this inspiration: “There is no artist who enjoys what he does every day more than I do.”
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