“I’ll Get You, My Pretty!”

I often think about the dangers of preciousness when doing any kind of art… writing included. Perhaps, writing especially. We often work so hard to come up with just the right word, tone, image, or idea that once we’ve landed on that perfect solution, it can become nearly impossible to part with it.

And yet…

True discipline comes with the ability to do just that: let go of our pretty little darlings. No clinging. No saving them in little boxes. No holding on for future use. Cut them up, turn them to kindling, and set fire to them.

Why?

Illustration by William Wallace Denslow in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Our precious darlings can imprison us—limit us to seeing the part and not the whole. They can prevent us from being objective about our own work and make us more rigid in our process, rather than more flexible.

Letting go of preciousness forms the foundation of good practice, improved technique, and continuing fluidity in the creative process. We will make more art—after all, that’s what we do. The more we make, the more we can see that what we once thought was precious perhaps isn’t that special after all. The more we do, the more skilled we become, the more we learn from our own shortcomings—and, the more confidence we have that there will be many more little darlings to come.

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