I have used the excuse of “writer’s block” several times over the years.
Now that I have confessed that to you, let’s have an honest heart-to-heart. Is saying that you have writer’s block any more serious than saying you don’t have motivation to get up in the morning? Or is it any more acceptable than saying you don’t know what to cook for dinner even though your kitchen is full of food?
My mind is a kitchen full of food. Actually, scratch that—my mind is a kitchen absolutely overflowing, busting at the seams, with thought-food. I have long been in a love-hate relationship with my own brain. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to tolerate the five or so thoughts that pop up each nanosecond. I overthink a lot of things, and I have anxiety. Sometimes my thoughts race around one topic, and sometimes my mind tries to attack several intense topics at once. It is a miserable cycle, but it has a very fruitful side. I attribute a great deal of my creativity and open-mindedness to this busy, bustling brain-kitchen.
Thinking in terms of this same analogy, sometimes food storms into my kitchen and I don’t take the time to put it away. Food, or ideas, if you will, need to be organized carefully, only to be pulled out at the right moment and formed into something consumable. Ideas are wonderful, wonderful things—just like those awesome, bags of flax seeds and goji berries you just bought. But if you never mix your flax seeds or goji berries into something pleasant to eat, you might as well have never bought them, right?
As Purdue Owl explains, writer’s block is often fueled by anxiety. I think most artists in general deal with anxiety, asking themselves a plethora of questions like “What should I create next?” “Will it be any good?” “What if it isn’t any good?” “What if nobody ever wants to appreciate my work?” “What if I never make anything good again?” And so on, and so on. Writer’s block can cause one to freeze up before they even spit an entire idea out. This is really unfortunate, but this is, like I said, nothing new. Renowned poet Donald Hall understood this dilemma, as well as it’s simple solution: “As Henry Moore carved or modeled his sculpture every day, he strove to surpass Donatello—and failed, but woke the next morning elated for another try.”
As a writer, an artist, a creator, we just have to make! Write! Paint! Move! Envision! Encapsulate your crazy thoughts! Or, as award-winning film director Joss Whedon put it, “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it. Saute it. Whatever. Make.” No offense, but you aren’t some human prodigy. Not every first draft you work up is going to be worth sharing. And that is OK! That’s actually good. How are you going to know what is worth sharing, though, until you map it out?
The greatest writers, I think, take their fear and shove it to the back burner. Believe that you do have some good ideas sitting in your kitchen, and be willing to put them to the test. Even be willing to try crazy, strange recipes and concoctions. Eventually—and this is a promise—eventually, you will work up something so enticing that it will be more than worth the seventy tries that it took to get there.
That kitchen isn’t going to work on itself.
As always, Tanya