“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter” – James Michener


Writing may not be your preferred form of expression, but it is important to an artist’s career. Doing it well will give you an edge. Doing it poorly will hinder you. In order to do it well you must work at it regularly.

While good writing may appear effortless to the reader, it is hard work for the writer. You may be very good at creating your art, but that doesn’t mean writing about it will be easy. These three tips will help.

Write it, then rewrite it until it is right. The title and illustration for this blog are no accident. Rewriting is important. If you do it well you can write statements that are concise and appealing. If you fail to do it, or do it poorly, you may lose the reader entirely.  “The easiest thing for a reader to do is stop reading.” This statement by Barney Kilgore, former editor of the Wall Street Journal, has become so ubiquitous it is almost a cliche. But it’s still true. Use rewriting to purify your sentences and hold the reader’s attention.

Make it straightforward. When you write a statement, stay focused on why you are writing it and who will be reading it. Emphasize one main point. Stay focused on that point, and ruthlessly do away with anything that strays from it. For example, if you are writing for exhibition jurors you may want to tell them about the techniques you have mastered. If so, don’t tell them that you have ten years of experience in some unrelated career. Don’t tell them whether or not you are married or have kids. Any irrelevant information only serves to weaken your point.

Read it aloud. The easiest way to spot mistakes and poor choices in your writing is to close the door and read it out loud. As you say what you have written, you will see it in a different light. Pay attention to places where you stumble and can’t get the words out. Those places need more rewriting.

Novelist Richard Bach wrote that we best teach what we most need to learn. I hope that is true, because I followed the tips contained in this post as I wrote it. It took work, but I believe it helped make this a decent piece of writing. Now I am curious. What do you find most difficult about writing?

 Craig Kittner, arts marketing director

For more ways to improve your promotional writing and other skills, attend our workshops in Frankfort on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Click here for a complete schedule. Not in the Frankfort area? Look forward to upcoming workshop series in Murray, Somerset and Hazard!

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One thought on ““I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter” – James Michener

  1. Thanks for the article. This makes me think of all the “student” papers that I read. After reading so many misspelled words, I sometimes have to look up the correct spelling to reassure myself!

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