Keep It Quiet


Dear Artist,

Here’s a valuable creative device. It takes a bit of practice and it requires character and maybe even a change in your natural personality.

The next time you have an idea or a plan that fires your enthusiasm, don’t tell or show it to anyone until you have gone a long way toward making it happen. Tove Jansson has said, “It’s risky to talk about one’s most secret dreams a bit too early.” Like champagne, when the cork is out of the bottle, the fizz begins to dissipate. Be advised that your own words can steal the thunder of your idea more easily than the negativity of others. And you have to watch out for approval too. You can get all your satisfaction from the verbal approval of others and then there’s no need to continue. It seems that words march along with all our dreamed creations and if they are let out to run amuck they can be instrumental in taking down the dream.

Sharing an idea and even enthusing about it seems natural because of the respect we have for communication. Verbal skills are one of mankind’s greatest assets. Also, in many fields the second opinion is valuable. The second opinion may even help you to see the folly of your idea and save you a lot of trouble.

But haven’t you ever found yourself growing progressively disenchanted with a project while explaining it to friends over a coffee or a glass of wine? There’s power behind the dam of silence. It’s often best to try to live privately in the dreams of your imagination until you can hang out their realizations to the world.

“Before the Masquerade” 1943
painting by Tove Jansson

Try it. Don’t even tell your dog or your cat. Keep your dream bottled inside until it gets out through your brush, your pen, or the sharp end of your chisel. Know that there’s another part of your brain with the wisdom, judgement and perseverance to improve, fine tune, and see the dream to its conclusion. Why drag in anyone else?

Best regards,


PS: “Understate and over-prove.” (Frank Bettger)



Leave A Reply

No Featured Workshop
No Featured Workshop

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

Subscribe and receive the Twice-Weekly letter on art. You’ll be joining a worldwide community of artists.
Subscription is free.