Painting With Words (And Moving Others Through Expression)
This edition is dedicated to three rising stars who inspire the hell out of me. I look forward to buying their books one day.
As a child, I thought of my grandma’s house as an artsy version of Santa’s workshop.
Her dining table was craft galore. My sisters and I would station ourselves around it donning polyester paint smocks over cute outfits styled by my mom.
Our chairs pressed against the table, we would prop ourselves up on our knees so we could reach that much further to grab from an assortment of construction paper, chenille sticks, pom poms, paint, glitter, glue—and pretty much anything else we deemed essential to bringing our creative ideas to life.
My biggest infatuation was a pair of “magic scissors” that could cut a zigzag through any piece of paper (better known to me today as pinking shears).
Back then, I considered myself quite the artist. But as soon as I started school, I ditched the “beret” life for books and pencils. Reading and writing became my new obsessions.
Now, over two decades later, I’m back to putting on a beret—metaphorically speaking (not the tacky one my friends gave me as a joke when I left Paris for Montreal).
Writers Are Artists
On Friday, I ran my last mentor session for writers enrolled in Write of Passage (the life-changing writing experience masquerading as a course).
Those who joined inspired the hell out of me. I can’t even think of them as ‘students’ anymore because they’ve schooled me on so many levels about what it means to write well. Namely, that it’s an act of expression.
Here’s a quote that stuck with me:
“I think of my writing as art.”
—Leo Ariel, Writer & Editor
I feel myself embodying Leo’s words more and more. It’s ironic because since I retired from making crafts at my grandma’s table—and up until the past couple of years—I didn’t think of myself as creative. At least not in the traditional sense (I sure as hell can’t paint anything I’d want to display).
But the more I write, the more empowered I am to activate my artistic flair. Writing is my favourite form of expression, and I love that I can paint with words.
Art isn’t just about expression. It’s about moving others through expression. As an artist, you can ignite, provoke, and ultimately guide people’s thoughts and emotions. In the most profound cases, you can do both at the same time.
I was reminded of this on Monday. Having put my mentor sessions behind me, I finally made time to dig into some student essays I’d been wanting to read.
My plan was to read for the hour I had designated when I sat down in a crowded cafe.
But I was so enthralled by the works of the three students I began with that by the time I looked up from my laptop, the cafe had cleared.
The serenity of the scene reflected the serenity of the pieces I was still pondering.
Good writing flows. Great writing moves people through a flow state infused with ebbs, twists, spirals, and dramatic turns.
Great writing is a steady stream through rocky mountains and wild terrain.
But don’t take my word for it.
I implore you to read three articles I’ve featured below from three outstanding writers guaranteed to make a big mark on the world.
Bio: Experience-junky, sister to 14, marketer, traveler and band manager to @moonagehookers.
Featured article: Leaving Orthodox Judaism
Preview: “I was 11 years old when I started my career as a school teacher. Up until that point, there was some normalcy in my childhood. […] But one fateful August, my dad decided that his children would no longer learn secular subjects. […] We were pulled out of school and my dad started on a new plan to “educate” us.”
Read her article here (2-min read).
Bio: Photographer, Artist and Student of the Natural World. Grew up in Bangalore, and currently studies at Ashoka University in India.
Featured article: Ishan, Why Do You Keep Risking Your Life?
Preview: “My love for wildlife is my act of defiance. It is me resisting the pressure to confine myself to a socially mandated passion. I have a fear of a phantom cubicle chasing me, striving to jail me in a desk job. Some can thrive without wild things and some cannot. I certainly cannot.”
Read his article here (2-min read).
Bio: Podcaster and former Tech Saleswoman living in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Loves learning and spending time with loved ones.
Featured article: What Do You Do All Day?
Preview: “I had achieved a life that was my young version of the American dream. Living in San Francisco, I built a life of fun that I saw reflected in sitcoms about young people in big cities. […] I drank and went out a lot […] The next morning, I’d be up a little before 7:00 am […] I learned to keep a steady hand as I applied eyeliner on the train to my office.”
Read her article here (2-min read).
I hope you find these articles as moving as I do.
There are few things more rewarding in life than seeing raw talent on the trajectory to success. It serves as a reminder that students are often our best teachers, offering fresh new styles and perspectives on what it means to be a great writer—and artist.
Yesterday, I sent my old boss a screenshot of a Twitter notification.
The book The Mom Test had biblical standing at the startup hub where she trained me in how to do customer discovery. So I knew she would think it was as cool as I do that the author, Rob Fitzpatrick, followed me on Twitter.
I promptly followed him back and messaged him saying as much with a photo of his book on the shelf behind my desk. He responded warmly saying his latest project is in my realm of expertise.
Now, as you may have read in the past, I’ve had my qualms with Twitter but I’m happy to report I’m finally getting the hang of it.
It goes to show your work can get noticed by people you admire even when you have a modest following of under 2,000 followers, as I do. So keep writing, don’t quit. You have to keep sending out a high vibrational frequency to attract the right people and opportunities for whatever it is you want to accomplish in life.
My questions to you are:
How can you ignite the artist in you to express yourself more through writing?
Who inspires you (the way Yehudis, Ishan & Michelle) inspire me and how can you engage more with their writing?
How do you want to move people with your writing?
That’s all for today. Thank you for reading.
If you enjoyed this week’s edition, please like, comment, or share this post with friends. It would help me tremendously in expanding my reach.
Wishing you a wonder-full week,
P.S. One of the best conversations I had in a breakout session this Write of Passage cohort was with an Englishman living in the US. Telling him where I’m based triggered an emphatic spiel about Montreal. He said, upon reference to his recent visit, “I could not believe there was a place with so much culture in North America!”
I laughed. Much like I laughed when our course instructor, David Perell, shared similar awe during his visit this time last year.
I shouldn’t take the art scene here for granted. For instance, check out this funky mural projection I passed at a metro station Monday night.
My question to you is, what cool art scenes could you plug yourself into in your area?