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Turning creative accidents into successful works of art

My massage therapist is an artist in every sense of the word—he does fantastic bodywork AND he’s a sculptor and painter. Recently, he told me a story about when he was in art school.

He was working on his first painting and between each layer of paint, he’d dip his brush in the varnish and then paint another layer. When he was done, the piece almost had a 3D effect with all the layers of paint and varnish. It was a beautiful accident.

During class, the instructor praised his work in front of the other students and mentioned the “intentional” effect he created. My massage therapist smiled and nodded, as if he meant to do that.

I love this story because it reminds me of what happens in writing. Last week, I brought part of a short story to my writing group and somebody went into great detail about what one of my characters represented in the work. I just nodded my head, thinking, “Wow, that’s really cool. I didn’t even realize I was writing that.”

When we’re creating and in our best form, the work flows and feels effortless. We tap into our subconscious. We’re an open channel and the work is coming through us.

When we’re in this state, we may not see all the connections. This is why it’s good to have others look at our work with different eyes.

After his painting “accident” my massage therapist had a new tool for his artistic tool belt. After the writing group’s comments on my short story, I was able to go home and re-conceive my character, adding depth and breadth to his purpose.

The next time somebody points out something in your work that you didn’t notice, see how far you can take it. Expand on it to discover what other ideas may be hiding right before your very eyes.

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