Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"D" Is For Dimostrazione

DIMOSTRAZIONE: A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

In his self-help book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb discusses seven principles drawn from an intensive study of man and his methods.  Named after the Renaissance man himself, the Seven da Vincian principles are most helpful when remembered, developed, and applied consistently throughout one's lifetime. 

Dimonstrazione, the second principle, means learning for yourself through practical, hands-on experience.  As writers, experience shapes our characters, plots, and style.  We learn the most by doing; it is the act of writing that teaches our greatest lessons.

The following is a brief excerpt from Gelb's book:

Think of the ways you have learned what you know. 
Do you learn more from your successes or failures, from good times or bad? 
We all know that good judgment comes from experience.  But we also know that we often gain experience through bad judgment. 
Do you make the most of your mistakes?

When I began my manuscript, I came from a place of anger.  I was blinded by disappointments that prevented me from moving forward. Once I had a story, I included unnecessary characters.  I fought for them because I wanted them there; the fact they were irrelevant never phased me. 

I have learned.  I have grown.

Every writer makes mistakes; what we learn from these mistakes is up to us.  I'm not going to pretend my failures don't sting.  Because they do.  But, I'm not going to pretend I can change certain outcomes, either.  Because I can't.

All I can do is learn.  Success comes through experience.  Growth comes through experience.  The rest is out of our hands.

How have your previous mistakes created better writing?


  1. May we never stop learning.
    My past mistakes make me more determined as a writer :)

  2. Yep, absolutely. Still very painful, but at least some good will oome of it.
    Moody Writing

  3. Past mistakes help me to know how to do it better next time.

    I particularly enjoyed this post as I love Leonardo Da Vinci and I'd love to read Michael J. Gelb's book about learning from him.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  4. That word sounds like a tranquilizer manufactured by big pharm.

    Otherwise, this post is fascinating. Thanks Paul.

  5. Paul, you hit the nail on the head. Practice is the only way we can ever truly get better in our chosen craft. Without honing those all-important writing muscles, we might as well be ridiculed ad nauseum by the likes of fitness trainer Jilian Michaels.

  6. I wasn't as detailed or an elaborate world-builder, but now I try to sense and see the whole world and every scene.

  7. Excellent post! LOVED it.

    I'm a new follower from the A-Z challenge. Nice to meet you.

  8. I make mistakes all the time - but your mistakes and successes make you who you are today... so, eh, I just go with it.

  9. When don't I make mistakes? I don't mind making them, I just hate the vulnerability of it when everyone can see me fall on my face. But, I pick myself back up and try again. Great post. Good luck with the challenge!

  10. I learn so much from all the mistakes I make in writing. Practice makes better.

    Great post!

  11. Dimonstrazione - a great word. I shall attempt to use it a work tomorrow. My students will love it (and of course its meaning).

  12. Thanks for stopping in, all! And for the kind words!!

    Better - in the event you see this, what do you teach? There are some great classroom resources on dimostrazione and the other principles if you are interested in browsing them. I used a lot of them in my history classes.


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(Sorry to bring back the word verification. Just couldn't take the spam anymore.)