Sometimes characters just won’t shut up. Other times, getting them to talk is like trying to move a cow off the road—next to impossible. Characters do take life. On lucky days, you sit at your desk and the words come as the blood circulates. But then one day, your muse decides to pack up their shit and leave imaginary town. Gone. No ideas. No inspiration.
I admit it; I’ve had writer’s block.
What do you do? Bitch about it and cry? No. Just power through it, my sweet friend.
It’s damn hard work, writing. Did I say hard? I meant hell on the Earth. Nevertheless, we write because we love it, because we are driven by it. We write because, in our writing, we say what goes.
Writing, to me, is a form of release. When I write, it’s to get something out of my system. That said, I can’t write when I’m happy. I want to hold on to my happiness as much as I possibly can, not make it go running in the opposite direction. Isn’t this what we all do? We write, ultimately, because we have something inside of us and we want to get rid of it. If through our metaphorical waste we can inspire, heal, provoke, save lives, then we all win. And that’s kind of the joy of being a writer.
This is, largely, why I think writer’s block kicks in for me. It’s the oddest thing, but I don’t believe any brilliant work of art was made in a good mood. I might be wrong, but, er…
- Beethoven: Alcoholic father.
- Sylvia Plath: Mental illness.
- J.K. Rowling: Divorce.
- Picasso: Depression. For several years, he tinted all his paintings blue.
- Van Gogh: Epilepsy.
- Newton: Schizophrenia.
- Steve Jobs: Mood disorder.
See what I’m doing here?
Ok, I’ll stop now.
As Lord Byron so eloquently put it, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”
And then there’s Aristotle. He said, “all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we have to be miserable to produce great work—no one wants to be miserable—but not necessarily euphoric either. I, personally, have to be deeply moved, by all kinds of emotions. When the feelings I’m experiencing become a bit too much, that’s when I make my best art. Not a day goes by on Facebook when I don’t read a post about the bad service someone got at an airline, the passing of a beloved one, Donald Trump, getting married, having babies, or something for which someone is grateful. Whatever the case might be, the common denominator is emotion.
I’m a big feeler. What does it for me? I’m moved by music (I go way back to Tom Jones, Elton John, Queen), literature, art, caffeine, the sound of rain, good acting, human misery. Therein, lies my solution for writer’s block. Become so deeply moved that your soul stirs with passion and electrifies your writing artistry.
Feel all the feels!