This guest post is by Martyn Chamberlin of Two Hour Blogger.
It was getting late.
The sick old man sighed and set down his brush. Learning back deeply in his chair, he gazed at his painting.
No matter how hard he worked, he couldn’t seem to finish it.
It was only a medium sized work—30 by 21 inches. And yet, the canvas seemed like a monolith of impossibility, stretching towards to the unforeseeable future…
Maybe he should just abandon it, like he had dozens of other works. This painting wasn’t getting anywhere. He couldn’t even give it a name. It was time to admit defeat.
After gazing thoughtfully at it for a bit longer, he shook himself away. Nightfall had long since fallen, and it was past his bed time.
It was May 2, 1519.
Leonardo Da Vinci never woke up. He died with his painting the Mona Lisa in his bedroom.
He never finished it.
He’d worked on it for four years, and given it nearly 30 layers of paint. But he never finished it.
Still, it’s considered the greatest painting ever brushed by mortals. Leonardo hit a home run. He created a masterpiece that would transcend the boundaries of location and time. How’d he do it?
Let’s peek at what Leonardo had going for him. The good part is that you’ll be able to apply these to your blog too.
1. He knew his stuff before he got started
Leonardo was a master at painting before he began the Mona Lisa. He spent decades learning and studying. He’d already mastered drawing and painting in oils.
There was a day when Leonardo picked up a paint brush for the first time. He made a lot of really lousy paintings when he started out—horrible, absolute disasters.
But he stuck with it and got better. After decades of unmitigated labor, he was finally ready to paint his masterpiece.
How this applies to you: If you stick with it, your blog will become a collection of masterpieces. But like Leonardo, you don’t start out professional and successful. The pursuit of excellence requires patience. Don’t let your failures discourage you. They’re essential to growing and getting better.
Nobody can create a masterpiece without lots of prior experience.
2. He had an incredible idea
Leonardo knew that people love an extra-ordinary painting, so he gave it to them. In his day, all the portraits had serious looks on their faces. He gave his a smile. That ticked people off so much, they’re still talking about it today.
How this applies to you: Don’t blog like everybody else. Stand out. Ask what nobody else is doing, and do it. Be exciting. Be weird. Be interesting. Be different.
People love to read a blog that’s got something unique about it.
3. He spent four years executing his idea
…and he still didn’t finished it.
Leonardo was a perfectionist. He didn’t slap together 30-minute paintings and shove them out of the studio. He didn’t ship anything until is was polished to perfection. He abandoned lots and lots of paintings.
Leonardo understood that creating art takes time, and creating really good art takes a really long time.
How this applies to you:No, you don’t want to spend four years writing a blog post and then never publish it! But you do want to spend a lot of time writing and polishing each article.
If you’re just blogging for fun, that’s okay. But if you want people to read it, you’re going to have to work hard at creating value for your audience. Don’t worry about “just getting something out there”—don’t ship until you’ve actually got something worth reading.
This could mean that you spend a lot more time on each article.
This could mean that like Leonardo, you abandon the majority of your work.
This could mean that you publish less often than you currently are.
One great post per week is a lot better than five mediocre ones. What if Leonardo had painted 20 mediocre portraits of a smiling woman instead of one great one? We wouldn’t be talking about any of them.
The same applies to your blog. You don’t have to give it 30 layers of paint, but more than one is certainly nice.
If you want your next blog post to be like the Mona Lisa, be patient, conceive a great idea, and execute it thoroughly. Follow these three steps and you’ll be creating art folks will be linking to years to come.