I confess, I have been too busy to post.
Which is a dirty damned lie. Yes, I have been busy. However, there were definitely blocks of time that could have used towards a post, along the lines of — nope, not dead yet, and here’s how I’ve been productively spending my time…. ha ha ha not so funny.
What really happened is I got blocked. It was a minor block, as these things go. I became trapped in my own expectations and fears about what this blog would become. It’s a creative person’s worst nightmare, really. At the point where you most need to dig deep and come up with something great, your mind betrays you and shows you nothing but nightmares.
And then, of course I compounded my problem.
What NOT to do
When you are blocked the most common thing to do is research the problem. Everyone does this — students, soccer moms (I love how that’s become a demographic), business people, government officials. Things not flowing? Check around, see what other people have done about this problem, and copy their ideas. I’d say this technique is helpful about 25% of the time. Pros: It keeps you from reinventing the wheel, and people sometimes HAVE come up with truly marvelous ways to solve the problem.
Cons: If no-one has had your problem in your exact situation, or other people’s solutions just won’t work for you, all you’ve done is wasted your time. At worst, you’ve blocked yourself even harder because you looked at all these competing solutions and NOT ONE EVEN WORKS FOR YOU. Depressing. Now, if you are of the innovator-type mind, you might be able to modify something to fit your situation. But the strictly creative mind just feels like it’s all been done before. The problem is unsolvable, at least by my puny mind. Woe is me.
The second thing people do is look for inspiration. This is actually the second level of the Research Pit of Despair. People having trouble being creative seek solace and inspiration by looking to the greatest people in their field. BAD IDEA. Seriously. Who reads Oscar Wilde and thinks, Oh, how simple. I can totally do that. Who checks out the Pieta and thinks, Michelangelo was a hack. I have more creative genius in one little pinkie than he does? NO ONE, THAT’S WHO. Anyone in the same field who gazes upon the works of a master develops a crippling inferiority complex. Seriously. Benefit in this method: 0%.
BUT. If you seek inspiration in fields other than your own, that’s fine. And not in a field you moonlight it. I, who once considered myself a well-trained soprano, literally CANNOT listen to music with vocals as I write. Not at all. Not even Enya, which cannot truly be said to have words. So if you’re having problems with your art, it’s ok to go to a poetry slam. If you’re a photographer, check out some sculpture. If you’re in advertising, head as far away from civilization as you can get. The idea is to get away from your anxiety triggers to allow the creative process to blossom. Don’t force it. Which brings me to the next no-no.
The worst thing you can do is authorize the use of deadly force. I know the best thing to do is to use the ABC method: Apply Butt to Chair. 90% of the time, this works. I’m not at all opposed to this. what I am opposed to is self punishment. Do not force yourself to sit in the chair, day in, day out until the magic starts to flow goddamnit! This is a form of mental abuse that all creative people must be on guard against. Very few artists get to that point (most will swear off their art completely before this happens, also a very real form of self-crippling to be aware of.) But seriously, this is like whipping a child so it will stop crying. It’s ludicrous to expect results with this method.
What about me?
Studies show that people learn best with examples, so I’ll tell you my most recent story of creative block. I was doing really well with the blog, I would do it first, before I did any other writing, as a form of journalling. But then, REAL work deadlines started stacking up, and I had to go hard. Then I went on a short trip, came back refreshed and excited, sat down to write a couple posts, and realized that my writing style had NOTHING in common with my favorite blogs. Not the blogs that I sit down and read every day, that I refer back to and send others to. Nope. What my blog resembled was a vanity blog.
What a blow to the pride. I started this thing to create a community where creative people, especially the blocked ones, could get together and share their trials and tribulations, and feel like they’re not alone. Instead, I was blogging about my weekend.
So, I took a look at some of my favorite blogs to really examine what they were doing differently. I read two HUGE articles/tutorials on how to build a better blog. I discarded idea after idea after idea for posts because they didn’t have enough “content.”Anything I sat down to write sounded like a pompous lecture. I gave it up. I regretted telling people I had a blog. I threw myself into wrapping Xmas presents.
But then, this morning when I was meditating, I thought, you know, how come blogs have to be so content oriented and Twitter is so eclectic? Why the hell can’t I post frequently, randomly, and with a ton of interesting ideas and have the same following that serious Twitterers have? In case you haven’t noticed, I can’t tweet, I’m waaaaay to wordy, but by gum I can be weird and interesting and funny and thoughtful. Who says every post has to read like a damn article! If there’s value in tweets, then there’s value in what I have to say too, no matter what format I put it in. So there 😛