Expression Isn’t a Skill

expression is truly original to an artist, I believe. Someone’s imagination made visible, OR it could be that funny look you GET when you ask a stupid question.

Expression is original to its creator. Skills are what molds it into form. Gaining skills to improve is necessary, as you would agree, but the way a masterpiece is expressed through the creator is not the same as a skill learned to design the idea.

When I work through my own writer’s voice or do my own art thing, I always have an inner battle. It’s hard to let it flow from my imagination and onto the page without hearing the darkness of my own thoughts harshly judging my work.

The thoughts are there, and I acknowledge them. Yet, as I listen, I respond gently as a whisper or a thought, I don’t care what you think, I’m doing it anyway…and the darkness dissipates into oblivion. Many times they’re stubborn but I persist.

I know with every crafted sentence I’m improving. With every stroke of my pencil, I’m improving. This is skill-building. Not my expression.

My expression isn’t perfect (I mean if you’re following someone’s rule of perfect) but it’s part of sharing with the world my heart.

For some reason, we all need to share what makes us fulfilled and it’s a good thing. Truly a good thing.

Where the problem lies is we tend to measure what we do all the time against some unknown, or known, haunting voice in our head that says, “so-and-so does it better.”

Or, “YOU suck at this!”

Somewhere in the past, boxes were drawn for competition. The A group. The B group. All the way to the F group (you can tell I’m a teacher). BUT Competition, it is.

Without the essence of competition, we wouldn’t reach a higher goal which, whether we win or lose, we’ve accomplished something good and that’s worth the loss, or the win. But we forget that part. The part where we’ve learned a valuable lesson so we can add to our repertoire of experiences.

BUT competition (the process of letting the cream rise to the top) should not be at the expense of losing one’s own expression as we improve our skills.

Our expression must be our own. Variety adds spice and color to the world.

We need artists of all kinds to express who they are as they turn their souls inside out for the world to see and use their patchwork of experiences to sweep us off our feet.

When I listen to a song or look at a piece of art or read something, I know when the creator has left a part of themselves in that piece because I can feel their imprint. A silent signature.

I’ve done a lot of research over the years in the genre of writing. I’ve read books, and articles, and taken a few novel writing classes. I’ve learned a lot of rules and tried to follow them all so I could take every angle, and gather all the advice so I could write a best-selling novel.

Then I did the same to try and land an agent.

But somewhere I believe all those rules failed me because it felt so unnatural. I took out my expression and wrote unbelievably dry text so I could sound like “they” wanted me to sound.

Write how “they” wanted me to write.

I’m not making excuses because I need to keep improving, but I left a part of me out to follow their advice.

Following the rules made my queries sound like I was writing an ad. It didn’t even sound like me and I hated the form, and it felt so wrong.

At the school’s talent show there was a 5th grader who surprised the audience with her singing talent. She’s an introvert with a slumped posture. Eyes always fixed on the ground. Never in a million years would I have guessed she could sing.

I admired her courage to get through a nerve-racking performance. With a few tweaks in her appearance and some more skill-building as she grows up, she just may have a cool path to express herself in a celebrated way.

But, as I mentioned before, it is really hard (a battle) for me to trust my own expression for fear of judgment. Will this be true for her, too?

I think some of you will agree we stand in our own way and forget to follow the REAL leader filled with original content and creativity to express in full color! So, who is the real leader? You are… I am. She is. Leader of ourselves with our own expression. Am I right?

Much love,


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