7 Ways That Writers and Artists Are Alike

Writers use words to create while artists rely on color, shape, and other visual elements, and their final products are different. But they both create finished products that are amazing. So what do writers and artists have in common?

Here are 7 ways that writers and artists are alike:

  1. Creative
  2. Imaginative
  3. Detail-oriented
  4. Must work hard to master their craft.
  5. Revise until satisfied with their work.
  6. Suffer from creative blocks.
  7. Must learn to deal with rejection.

Although writers and artists create different end products, they share many characteristics. Let’s explore them.

1. Creative

Being creative is a given trait of any artist. However, what does it mean to be creative? Someone might say it means to make something, but if a kid makes a mess, we don’t call that creative. But if a kid makes a mess on a piece of paper with paint, it’s now called “art.” 

Ironically, science has come to the rescue. Neuroscientists have identified three types of creativity:

  • Combinational: In the creative process, a writer or artist combines old ideas, lets them incubate, and waits until lightning strikes.
  • Exploratory: This type of creativity happens when a writer or artist begins creating without knowing how the piece will evolve. An example of exploratory creativity would be a writer starting a story with a few characters and letting the plot develop from the characters.
  • Transformational: This type of creativity is about taking a rule that prevents the artist from generating a new idea and asking what would happen if that rule was no longer present. Free verse and impressionism are two examples of transformational creativity.

2. Imaginative

Look up the definition of imaginative or imagination, and the word creative keeps popping up. But imaginative and creative are not the same. A person can be imaginative all day, but they might as well be daydreaming unless they create something.  

A writer or artist needs to be imaginative and creative. 

The imagination is the fuel that drives someone to create a work of art, and as with creativity, researchers have categorized imagination. Several of these categories are critical for any artistic endeavor.

Imaginative fantasy, which includes being able to think of new ideas, is key. But artists need emotional imagination to understand how a viewer or reader will respond, empathy, and intellectual imagination.  

Dreams are also a source of imaginative thinking. Artists sometimes use their dreams to incubate ideas, and dreams can also serve as springboards to being creative.

3. Detail-Oriented

Attention to detail is a critical talent and mindset for any successful person, whether in business, sports, or the arts. The little details always count, and readers and viewers quickly spot mistakes. When an artist makes a small mistake in their portrait, not many people notice it, but an artist does due to being so detail-oriented.

However, when a writer makes a small mistake, it’s slightly more noticeable.

4. Must Work Hard To Master Their Craft 

Artists and writers don’t master their craft by dabbling in it, as it requires self-discipline and long hours. The good news is that an artist or writer does not need to go to college, but it doesn’t hurt.

Artists and writers who go to university or an art institute gain some benefits that give them an advantage:

  • feedback: Both instructors and fellow students will give helpful feedback an artist can use to improve.
  • Practice technical skills: Learning how to create in various methods is helpful for the present and future. For example, a poet might want to write in free verse, but learning to write in rhyme will help a poet use rhythm in free verse.
  • Learn from the masters: Artists copy masterpieces not to pass them off as their own. Instead, they want to understand how those who came before them attempted to solve technical and inspirational problems.

You might have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. However, this study’s authors say that Gladwell leaves out a critical variable, which is the quality of instruction a student receives.

So, whether you want to write or draw, find teachers who will teach and challenge you.

5. Revise Until Satisfied With Their Work

Artists and writers don’t consider their work finished until they have revised it. Writers edit, revise and proofread multiple times until they are satisfied that they cannot improve it.

Stephen King, for example, writes three drafts of a novel

Richard Bausch says that he wrote Hello to the Cannibals five times.  

Artists do the same thing. They analyze their paintings, add or take away details, and start over if they don’t like how a painting is turning out. Many artists will draw several versions of a painting until they create one that satisfies them. 

You can find many examples of artists doing the same thing. 

For example, Leonardo da Vinci painted two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks. Caravaggio painted two versions of the Supper of Emmaus. And Monet’s Water Lilies might be one for the record books—he painted and repainted the scene until he was satisfied with the painting.

6. Suffer From Creative Blocks

All writers and artists suffer from creative blocks at some point in their careers. Sometimes the reason for the block is that the artist cannot find inspiration, or they cannot solve a problem in their craft. 

But those are not the only reasons they are unable to create. Here are more:

  • Artists sometimes have too many ideas and suffer from decision overload.
  • Sometimes writers are incubating an idea, waiting for it to develop enough that they can work on it.
  • Fear of failure can cause an artist or writer to give up before starting, which is especially true for perfectionists.

7. Must Learn To Deal With Rejection

All artists and writers will face rejection. 

For example, J.K. Rowling faced 12 rejections before Harry Potter was published, Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times, and 144 publishers rejected Chicken Soup for Soul.

Artists also face rejection from Juried Exhibitions, Art Galleries, and other institutions. For example, the painter Deanna Wood received 44 rejection letters in 2005. Some artists use the rejections as inspiration, creating blogs, using the letters to wrap presents, and publishing their rejections on the web for all to see.