A few weeks ago my wife and I paid a visit to an Amish craftsman who is known for building unique dining room tables. We have always wanted one of his tables since we first enjoyed a dinner around one of his masterpieces a number of years ago. However, he does not have a web site or even email so if you want to order one, you have to schedule an appointment and pay him and his bride of nearly 60 years a visit.
It is more than a two-hour drive from our home, but it was well worth the trip. When w we arrived, I was surprised to learn he was 80 years old and is still building tables and clearly enjoys it. He explained that by saying, “I would rather wear out than rust out”. Our conversation also caused me to see writers could learn from him.
I confess I love spending time with craftsman of all types. I mean people who are really good at what they do and are clearly passionate about it. So when I have a chance to spend time with people like that, I take advantage of the opportunity to learn what they do to be so good and what keeps them motivated.
Writers can learn from wood working
Once we went through the details of ordering the table, I asked him a few questions to see what I might learn from him. The first thing that became clear is writing is a lot like wood working. It is a craft that requires practice and you will make mistakes, but that’s OK.
In fact, when I asked the table maker what he would he tell someone he was training, he quickly said, “buy a wood burning stove so you have somewhere to put your mistakes”. Writers can learn from that. You must work at it, but sometimes you will write something and realize it is not that good. That is OK and is actually part of the process. However for some of us that feels like failure. Instead you should you look at it as a learning opportunity. What did you not like about the current version that you would do differently with your next draft?
It is a craft that requires practice and you will make mistakes, but that’s OK.
Sometimes you can see it and admit it to yourself or sometimes it requires an editor to show you the rough edges. Either way, you may have to throw it in the “wood burning stove”, learn from the mistakes and get back to writing a better draft.