Take Pride in Your Work – Lessons from The Potter


I vicariously went through art school with friends, back when the Earth was still warm.

One potter in particular remains an inspiration in my life.

This quirky, talented hippie threw pots.  His glazes were delicately conceived and meticulously mixed … as if he were an alchemist seeking a cure for an insidious disease or struggling to turn mud into gold.

The walls of his pots were thin but sturdy.  His colors were consistent and vibrant.  His works of art possessed you … before you realized you wanted to possess them.

The Potter was a master of his trade.  He turned mud into gold.

On those rare occasions when his creations – from his perspective – were imperfect, he always followed the same course of action.

He mercilessly destroyed them.

Smash!  Crash!  Splinter!  Biff!  Bop!  Shatter!

Years later, a different potter granted me a few pots that, for one reason or another, were worthless throwaways.  While speaking to a small group, I spoke of the horror of watching The Potter heartlessly slaughter a nearly perfect creation.

Then, I broke one of the innocent pots as an illustration … and another.  As I prepared to whack the third pot, the protestations were so overwhelming that I allowed a lady to rescue the otherwise doomed work of art.

I fear The Potter would not have been amused.

The Potter – who signed each and every conception – made a pact with himself that nothing but his finest work should survive.  Even if friends begged to adopt his imperfect productions as treasured loved ones.

His strategy allowed for only two conclusions: excellence or execution.

Few writers care half as much about their creations.

A prominent blogger – who knows far more about writing than I … who earns far more than I … who is far more renowned than I – recently had a respected blog publish a post, after repeated rejections.  The writer’s lesson had a few excellent points, healthy self-promotion, smatterings of encouragement and several clumsy typographical and grammatical errors.

If The Potter had read that post, he probably would have sacrificed a worthy plate just to make things right in his world.

Are mistakes inevitable?  Maybe – but our best efforts will help eradicate them.  This is where it’s helpful to let others read and freely comment on our writing before we consider it to be finished.

Is there always time to spend perfecting our work?  No.  So, invest your time wisely.  Take pride in your work.  Polish your copy.  The final steps are the most important.

In my humble opinion, no professional writing is ready to be posted, published or printed until it is spell-checked, proofread, edited and polished

As with The Potter, your writing reflects your personal quest for excellence or the lack thereof.  Those who practice the art of writing should show no mercy toward their imperfect work.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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