Applying the rules of art to writing: learn to speak about your work

“This not only helps those who are looking at your work to understand what you are trying to achieve but also is critical to your own understanding of what you are doing. Avoid trying to interpret your own motivations or what may lie behind your work. This is an invitation to mislead yourself or read into the work something that is not there. The work is the starting point, and ending point, of its content.”
Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White

We writers are good at being on our own, developing our ideas in isolation, so it does not come naturally to talk freely about our work. But we must, in order to get it published and to promote it. “What’s it about,” is the first question an interviewer will ask. “What inspired you?” is the next question. If we don’t know the answers, we will feel stupid and look stupid and the overall impression will be that we and our work is stupid. Kit White’s advice to artists holds true too for writers.

Kit White

[photo: zimbio.com]

Thankfully as an editor I had to do a fair bit of public speaking, at conferences, at training groups, radio interviews and a few television interviews. The biggest gig I ever did was on stage in front of 1000 guests as co-host of the annual Furniture Industry Awards in the 1990s. Pretty nerve-wracking, working with a full audio-visual presentation, to auto-cue. But I did get to co-host with actress Maureen Lipman [many times, an absolute brick] and once with comedian Jonathan Ross [a gentleman, despite his blue jokes].

Kit White

[photo: zimbio.com]

I learned to prepare, prepare, prepare; not to gabble; not to fiddle with my dress or my hair; and to focus on someone in the front row and pretend I was talking to them.

Kit White

 

‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White [MIT Press]

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Learn to speak about your work: applying the rules of #art to #writing via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-O5

Comments

  1. The writing and the public speaking seem so far apart on the spectrum that it’s no wonder some of us writers find it difficult. But you seem to have a good grounding in both which is a valuable range of skills to have.