Painting by Numbers


“I have met so many people who say they’ve got a book in them, but they’ve never written a word. To be a writer — this may seem trite, I realize — you have to actually write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or not.”


Khaled Housseni




According to Penguin’s Psyche-of-the-Creative-Writer there are a number of habits that successful writers must develop if they have any chance of succeeding.

1 Successful writers don’t procrastinate

2 Successful writers establish and maintain a schedule

3 Successful creative writers rise early

4 Successful writers take daily exercise

5 Successful writers use introverted personality traits to their advantage

6 Successful writers learn the art of self-promotion

7 Successful writers become successful administrators

8 Successful writers project a professional image


Well, I’m looking through this list and wondering how I measure up?


1. Yes, I sometimes procrastinate. I am also impulsive and like to get on with whatever it

is that I am doing. If it is sometimes at the expense of planning, then so be it.

2. I write in the morning. I dream at night.

3. I have always been a lark. Once it is time to get up, I never procrastinate.

4. Exercise is my saviour. It clears my head. Cycling and running acts as a mental detox.

5. Of my introverted character traits, I like them. No, I love them. Being alone is freedom.

6. Now, I am not good at self-promotion, it goes back to the fear of being judged. And the

buggers do judge you!

7. Not a successful administrator. My wife berates me for my outward confusion. I stick

to the thought that outward confusion indicates inward calm. I am wrong.

8. Again, not sure on this one. I think that my image is accepted as a little bit strange, a

little odd, eccentric at its best.



So, I reckon that I scored four and one half out of ten. Can I still be a writer?


I just love and loathe these self-help books. They make it seem so straightforward, simple, and so easy to understand. It’s like painting by numbers. But when that’s done, you can only fool so many people that the work of art is actually yours.



“Didn’t Van Gough paint some sunflowers as well?”

“Yes, he bloody did and he was a mad-un as well.”


Perhaps, to a large extent, we are all artists who paint/write by numbers. We don’t set out to do so, but we end up imitating our favourites. With out knowing what we are intent on producing, we produce a little homage to those who have shown the light upon the path for us.


But lists of personality traits?  Please!







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