Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Creative Block

{I started this a few weeks ago and am just now finishing it..enjoy!}

I stumbled upon a tweet this morning with the hashtage #creativeblock. I was intrigued. It's a synchro-blog where a number of artists are collaborating on this topic. I haven't read them all yet, but I read this one and it is so good. Mandy Steward is a writer and artist, you can visit her site at & read this specific post in it's entirety (along with many others....). But I wanted to share a little piece of what she wrote on creative blocks...Mandy writes;

So I make myself sit, every morning, fingers to keyboard, just as a painter sits fingers to paintbrush, a musician sits fingers to guitar strings, a chef sits fingers to measuring spoons, a dancer stands, toes to wood floor, and I let the feelings of The Block race through me. I turn to face them head on, patting them on the head as they pass before me.

“You aren’t going to write as well as the other bloggers writing on this subject,” The Block hisses at me, squinting eyes in a nasty glare, like it’s staring into the sun. I let it speak, but I don’t clamp up at its words. They are just words. They are not truths. “Who are you to speak on creativity?” It continues, still hissing, still glaring. “You do so little these days. When was the last time you painted or played the piano or sewed or drew? You just write things. How boring. How un-colorful. Writers are not creatives. Writers certainly aren’t artists.”

The Block likes to attack at the jugular, but you kind of have to give it space to speak,otherwise you resort to what I spoke of earlier, doing stupid menial tasks to avoid the art that lies before you. So you have to go in prepared, to hear the worst, to hear all the old tapes you thought you’d destroyed. You pat The Block on the head like a little child whom you love desperately, even though they are red-faced, fists pounding the air in an all-out tantrum. You don’t belittle it, you merely sit with it. And then you go a step beyond that. You use it. You put it to work for you. You are creative afterall. You can do this.

I have this incredibly talented musician friend and we were discussing one time what she could do when she was stuck. She goes to write songs and all she can think about is how she doesn’t know what to write about. What should her focus be on? Who is her audience? Where is her heart, her passion and how can that come out in her music? What should her lyrics be saying? How would she be the most effective in her songs? The Block tries to strangle her with an onslaught of questions so that she feels weary before she’s even begun to create. I encouraged her to start with that.

I said to her, “This is me gently reminding you to songwrite the questions when you don’t have the answers.” Sing about the confusion. Write lyrics about the desperate need to have songs translate into healing for someone, but how breathtakingly hard that can be sometimes. Use The Block’s questions for your material. Who wouldn’t relate to a song about wanting to have impact, but not knowing where to begin? That’s a human struggle we all can attest to.

BAM! So good, right? I love how she writes, particularly on this topic. I don't know if everyone gets like this, but at times I feel like I'm the only person who struggles with this. It's pretty common for people to feel alone when they are facing challenges...even though you know you're not the only person going through something, it feels like it. The 'creative block' as Mandy writes about it, has honestly been the thing that has prevented me from really pursuing any of my art confidently beyond 'hobby'. Other people believe in me, I've been complimented and encouraged a number of times by a number of people on my artistic endeavors. But it doesn't really matter if I don't believe in myself and am unwilling to risk a bit of failure. Art, in whatever form it's created, is funny to me. It has really no boundaries or is what you make it. It's unique to the creator. Yet artists often compare their work to that of other artists and then individual innovation and inspiration get's buried in the mix and lost. Life is just way to short to have little dreams and to climb hills and to worry about other people and things and not having crazy success. That's a recipe for an unfulfilled life. Go on, get to the top of that mountain and then look out to see all of the other ones you get to climb before this journey comes to a close.

This has quickly gone from a blog about the creative block, to a pep talk. I went with it... heeding my own advice.

Love love, Rachel

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