Many people think that writing is an easy business that anyone can do. That may be true, but the finished product will let you know whether the author is a craftsman or a junk dealer. A craftsman is one who takes pride in his work and has no qualms about signing his/her name to what he/she has written. A junk dealer, on the other hand …well, dispenses junk. So, the next time you undertake a project, decide whether you are going to be a craftsman or a junk dealer.

Try visiting a junk yard, and then take a tour of an art gallery. Complete opposite, don’t you think? In the junkyard everything is thrown haphazardly all over the place. You may have to do a lot of digging to find something worthwhile. In an art gallery, everything is neatly laid out in a way that appeals to the senses. That’s the difference between a true craftsman and a junk dealer. One is distracting, the other engaging. So how does a writer become a craftsman?

A craftsman is:

  1. 1. Critical of his finished product. He examines if for flaws; he looks at every detail. Should he trim a little bit here? Smooth something out there? Add a little bit there? He may walk away and leave it for a day or two. When he returns to look at it again, he picks up on things  he didn’t see before. He then goes at his project with renewed enthusiasm and insight.
  2. 2. Not perturbed by criticism.  Calling in someone who will give him an unbiased view, is one of the best ways he can ensure that his work is ready for the marketplace. However, he ultimately relies on his own intuition.  
  3. 3. Never stops learning. He is never so conceited that he thinks he knows it all. He reads books about his craft, attends seminars and workshops and associates with other craftsmen. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
  4. Patient. If you are the type of person who stands in front of the microwave shouting, “Hurry up!” then you are probably not ready to be a craftsman. It takes time and perseverance to produce any worthwhile piece of craft or art. Study the lives of Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci and Jane Austen to name a few, and you will agree, their work was well worth the wait. That does not mean you must drag your feet and procrastinate. There’s a difference between being patient and wasting time.
  5. Always on the job. That’s not to say he never takes a vacation, but when he does, he makes some time each day to stay in touch with his craft. He might not write, sculpt or paint, but he might read or talk with other people in his field, so that he can return from his vacation with fresh ideas and concepts. Like a true athlete, the craftsman works constantly to keep himself fit.

 So if you are trying to make your mark in the world as a writer, first endeavor to become a craftsman. You will love the results. Ask me how I know.

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