As you can imagine, writing the dictionary is no small task. Webster wrote for 26 years and learned nearly 30 languages to come up with his first draft of this famous text containing more than 70,000 words.
Here's something you probably can't imagine though; over 12,000 of those words were given different spellings and definitions than had ever been seen before in the English language. This is why one of Noah Webster's chief titles on Wikipedia reads, "spelling reformer." To me, this sounds like a grammar nerd's equivalent of a vigilante or a cowboy. Who said grammar couldn't be sexy?
Surprisingly enough, Webster's work went largely unrecognized during his lifetime. The first edition of the dictionary sold a mere 2,500 total copies. It's hard to believe that one of the best selling books of all time had such a poor first print run. While his work may have been under appreciated, no one can doubt it's importance, especially for the artist.
How the artist defines certain words has a significant effect on the work she does. Words like success, failure, risk, good, bad, and even art; these words have a deep effect on the psychology with which she approaches her canvas, ad campaign, or design project.
If our definitions of such words are so important, why then would any artist allow one man's collection of definitions to dictate how we go about the process of making our art?
The first project of any artist should be to write his own dictionary, filled with words that mean whatever he wants them to mean.
I say this with no disrespect to Noah Webster or his life's work. Webster passed away just a few years after releasing the second version of his dictionary. If he were somehow immortal, I'm sure he would still be writing versions today (somewhere around version 78 perhaps). In fact I believe that Webster, or any good spelling reformer, would embrace the idea of bucking tradition and forging your own path.
If Webster's definition of success doesn't suit you, great. Find your own.
If my definition of creativity is not to your liking, that's okay. Start your own blog and write about yours.
The artist's dictionary is whatever she wants it to be. It's whatever will free her from expectation and enable her to do brave and generous work.