In this day of internet and light speed communications, pursuing your dream to be a writer or artist seems like a tragic blunder. You feel like your ideas are never original enough, you are constantly finding that someone else has already written your story, and no one wants to pay you for your work.
Well, that’s ok. Oscar Wilde believed in “Art for art’s sake”, as all true artists probably should, but sometimes I look for inspiration in the words of the Bible. The Bible has been inspiring the works of creative artists for thousands of years, most notably Milton’s Paradise Lost and William Blake’s beautiful prints. However, we hardly hear about inspirational bible verses inspiring the creative artist push through some of his or her personal creative dilemmas.
According to Holy Bible, God is the ultimate creator. In Genesis chapter 1, God creates the Earth, the sky, separates the light from the darkness, the rivers and streams, all the animals, man and finally woman.
The artist can often think of himself as the god of his world. Sometimes writing even the shortest story can be a daunting task. Creating characters, plotting arcs, developing believable settings, and all the research involved can be hard work. Referring the first chapter in Genesis often helps me through these challenges when I get stuck in the creative process. Instead of using some text bock to help create my world and its characters, I follow in God’s footsteps. Not only is the first chapter of Genesis inspiring, it’s delightful to think that of God scribbling in a giant notebook through the wee hours, creatively thinking about what’s going to work and what is not in his world.
If you believe in the Bible’s word, that God is the supreme Creator, then you should know nothing is original. All the hours you have spent up late, worrying about if you art is original enough, has been wasted time because God has created everything and every situation there is to create. Here is another Bible verse that is inspiring when battling through clichés and originality. Ecclesiastes 1:9 reads “What has been will be again, what has been done will be again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
There is a lot of truth to this verse. Many readers believe that Tolkien was the first to invent a new world, or was the first person to write fantasy, when Robert E. Howard created Hyboria and published the Conan stories before Tolkien had ever published The Hobbit. Everything, outside the advancements in technology and medicine, has been thought of and done and you should not feel guilty about your work seeming unoriginal.
Ecclesiastes contains another Bible verse to inspire us to at least believe this to be true. “Look! There is something new. It was already here, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow” (1:10-11). The thing is that humans easily forget about experiences within a few decades or centuries because culture and humanity are rapidly changing to include the next big fad or law. If you have ever taken an English class, then you know that most authors and painters were hardly ever famous while they lived, and those whose works have lived on wrote of things typically considered perverse for their time.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I see it as one of two things, creative procrastination or laziness. Though procrastination and laziness are synonymous terms with each other, by adding creative to procrastination I try not to think of it as laziness, or that you are just putting off your work, especially if you’ve been sitting in front of the easel or notebook for so long you can see the canvas’s pores or the lines of your notebook are, as the old cliché goes, blurring together.
I look to Proverbs 12:24 when I need an inspirational verse to get me going. “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slavery”. Don’t become a slave to laziness or procrastination. They both can ruin your dream and your work, but you can rule own world by your own hand if by only working on a little at a time.
All art is a journey and we must treat our characters with respect. By doing so, our characters will do the same with us. When I find that a character isn’t doing what I want him or her to do I find inspiration in the quote, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong” (Leviticus 19:33). We must remember when we breathe life into a character and they become fully round, that we must now give them the space to choose and react to the situation they are given. After all, when you write or paint, you are the one who is in a strange land.
If you are looking for creative inspiration, the Bible is full of verses of stories that are inspiring. There is nothing wrong with retelling an Old Testament story and this old book is occupied with stories of great moral themes for both the Christian, and the not so Christian. Artist throughout the centuries have never had problem painting them or retelling them and the old English in the King James Version is great for a writer’s literacy.
Sources: Zondervan NIV Study Bible