By: Dennis Bates
Talking to people who do what you do can be helpful, encouraging and sometimes even inspirational. Exchanging ideas with them can spur you on when you need it and give you fresh viewpoints or different approaches that allow you to raise your expectations and do even more than you thought you could do.
If you are a writer, talking to other writers can do all those things, or it can do just the opposite. A lot of writers are gracious and more than willing to share their secrets with fellow writers or just provide a sounding board for ideas that need to be fleshed out or otherwise validated. However, too many others are more than willing to tell you that your writing can only get better if you do things exactly the way they do it and follow a set of totally arbitrary rules that smooth out what you do until it is just like all the others.
I talked about that in a different blog about a month ago; I’ll try not to repeat myself although I’m not making any promises. I tend to do that when I feel strongly about something and I feel very strongly about this topic.
Let me put it this way: there are machines that can copy things, and they are becoming more and more sophisticated every day. The developments of scanners for computer transmissions are just some of the advances. Sure, they produce clean, professional clones of the original, but that takes no soul, no creativity and no talent…just electronics. Any slightly enterprising techie could use the find and replace features of most word processing programs and produce the same stories with new names over and over again.
As Simon Cowell would say, “I thought it was a bit karaoke, if you want my honest opinion.”
Imagine telling Picasso he couldn’t paint in only one color, or chiding some of the great impressionists because their paintings just don’t look real. What would some poets be if all their verses had to rhyme? Just how many writers does Hallmark need to do greeting cards, anyway?
To be sure, many of the great artists and writers copied those who came before them to develop their skills, but none of them stayed in the copying mode forever and not everyone copied the same person. They developed their own unique styles and let their individual creative instincts guide them.
As Christians, we are the same way. We learn how to talk to God through prayer and how to learn His plan by reading the Bible. We cultivate our spiritual needs through worship and learn how to praise Him through song. But if we don’t allow the creative, daily inspiration of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to develop our own unique style, we are copies, not originals, or, worse yet, we are empty vessels that could be so much better off full.
After all, the worst kind of karaoke is Christian karaoke. Who wants to be that?