Van Gogh’s Determination is an Inspiration for Any Writer

I had the privilege last week of going to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I took the self-regulated audio tour, and I must say, I was impressed. Not only with the museum but with narrative they told about Van Gogh.

The museum is a beautiful four-story building, tastefully decorated with engaging displays of over 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings and sketches – the largest Van Gogh collection in the world.



Okay, so the outside of the museum is more utilitarian than inspirational. It kind of looks like a high school, doesn’t it.

Here’s one of his self-portraits:



Okay. Even that is a lie because we weren’t allowed to take photographs of the exhibits. This was a poster of one of his self-portraits in a nearby park. But still, you can’t help but admire Van Gogh’s brush strokes.

How much of Van Gogh was pure genius and how much was hard work? As if often the case, hard work seems to win out, eventually pushing genius to the forefront after many years. Typically, genius isn’t in the mindset of the individual at all. Genius is a label conferred on someone after the fact, when people of “know” have had an opportunity to assess and critique someone’s work.

This was Van Gogh. The hard-working painter who wanted to discover new ways and modern ways to express his views of the world. It didn’t just come. It had to be nurtured and worked at over a ten year period.

What stuck out to me about Van Gogh is the descriptions of his work ethic. He observed and experimented. He did self-portrait after self-portrait in order to master his new skills. He worked incredibly hard to improve, to learn, and to realize that he had more yet to learn.

Van Gogh was not the instant genius. He had God-given talent, yes, but it wasn’t enough. He had a hunger, an insatiable drive to improve and create.

I wonder what kind of lesson indie authors can glean from Van Gogh.

Of course, it’s obvious. One cannot sit still. One cannot rest on one’s laurels simply because indie author laurels are quite tiny indeed.

Van Gogh’s drive has renewed in me the passion to improve. I want to further my vocabulary, continue to work on my descriptions, and delve deeper into more creative worlds of fiction.

I’m happy with what I’ve done in the past, but I’m not satisfied with it.

Here’s to renewed vigor, thanks to Van Gogh.

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