Making a Stronger (and Stickier) Message

By October 19, 2010 culture, faith, language No Comments

High Calling Blogs Book Club Selection

You should make something, Angel said to me. To display at the art conference.

Confusion set in. I’m a writer, I thought—I’m no artist. My vision was zero, so I asked her to explain what she meant.

Do something with words, she said.

My first impulse was to decline. But I knew that would be taking the quick way out to get away from the unknown.

I gave the notion some space to roam by visiting the conference Web site. There the vision for this event (Time to Rise Worship and Arts Conference) filled the space I had opened with a flicker of life. Its goal was to inspire “worshipers to be more creative and to reequip artists with renewed purpose and vision to give glory to God.”1

Great vision, isn’t it?

The notion Angel nudged me with was growing. The conference was something I could relate to; it was something I needed for myself.

You see, I’ve found in my writing that God-inspired creativity often gets stuck on its way out of me . . . my writing gets caught on the old pieces of me that haven’t been sloughed away yet. Insecurities, doubts, pride, discontentment, control—all these and many more choke back words that I hope to send forth for God’s glory.

In considering this very real and personal creative struggle, inspiration sparked for something I might be able to create. The notion exploded into a full-blown idea: In my mind’s eye, all those words describing the old self gathered together like a deadened husk around the sparkly, shiny creative life of Christ planted in me.

And so this writer gave hands-on art a try. I wanted to see the notion come alive.

Tucked Within, 2010

The finished piece is not grand in size or skill. Worried it wouldn’t make sense to those viewing it, I considered writing a poem or crafting some prose to explain my intent. Everything I wrote sounded pushy. Think this. Don’t think that.

It was control trying to steal away my influence.

It was idea pride2, as authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath call it in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, which is our tendency to want our message to endure in the form we designed. It’s the desire for the audience to give up its vote on what your message means.

In the end, the art piece stood alone. I think its message was all the stronger for it. And stickier too.

Read other Made to Stick posts from this week here.

See my art piece in its gallery debut!

2. Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (New York, NY: Random House, 2008), 240.

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