On Wanting to be The Writer Who Draws

I have never been an artist in the most traditional sense of the word.

Anna Burgess Yang


I have never been an artist in the most traditional sense of the word. I don’t sketch, or sculpt. I have been to a few of those wine painting parties, but the results of those evenings can hardly be considered “art.”

I never really tried to be an artist, because I thought I had no talent for it. Never took any art classes in high school or college. Was always a great admirer of art but never a creator of art.

After two back-to-back pregnancy losses, writing became a necessity for me, a way to express the immense hurt I felt. I had loved to write since I was a child and during that hot, stagnated summer of 2016, I wanted to turn my writing into something more. Words on a page could only express a portion of what was inside of me.

I bought all of the supplies: paint, canvas, colored pencils, sketchbooks, books for inspiration. I wanted to be prepared for whatever medium would strike me. I tried.

But the pictures I saw in my head could not translate into my fingers.

I abandoned the effort.

Now it is nearly two years later. I still write about grief and the daughters I never got to meet. I have a Rainbow Baby, a baby born after the storm of loss, now 9 months old. I still wish I could create art.

I follow writer Austin Kleon’s work, and he calls himself “a writer who draws.” He writes that “kids are naturally awesome at drawing.” My 8-year-old and 6-year-old draw constantly. They create. They make comics, and monsters, and blueprints for scientific machines they hope to invent. They are uninhibited and I encourage them, day in and day out.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000-hours” rule: that in order to become a master at anything, you need to practice for 10,000 hours. Sports, music, video games. Practice makes perfect. I didn’t practice even a minute fraction of 10,000 hours at art. I practiced for a few, could not create what I wanted, and gave up.

My kids show me the evolution of drawing. My 6-year-old’s improvements from last year to this year are incredible: dimension, proportion, detail. He draws every day. I began to wonder what I could create if I dedicated some time to drawing.

Since I don’t even have a handle on the basics, I picked up Ed Emberly’s drawing book for kids: Make a World. The basic concept is that if you can draw shapes, you can draw anything. After a few attempts at various cars, I tried to use the same technique on a square vase of flowers in my living room.

It needs a lot of work. But it is a start.

To read the writing that I do about pregnancy loss and grief, you can head over to my blog, Musings Out Loud.



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur. Niche freelance writer. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/