“I’ve got writer’s block,” your voice breaks, and you look up at the ceiling, adamant not to let your tears flow. You have to be strong. “And it’s really bad.”
Writer’s block is one of the most common phrases you’ll hear from someone who’s trying to be a writer or artist. It’s a disease that afflicts every creator at least one point in their lives, and always at the worst possible time. It doesn’t cause a fever, or chills, or flu-like symptoms. What it does do is worse: It stops you from creating.
Think you have it? No, you don’t.
Writer’s block doesn’t exist.
“But wait a minute, yes it—” Nope. It doesn’t, and I’m going to stop you right there. Say it with me: Writer’s block does not exist.
“So, why can’t I [insert verb for whatever art you’re trying to create here]? I’m so uninspired and nothing is flowing. How do you stay so motivated?”
You can’t expect to find a wellspring without digging first. And even when you have found it— you can’t expect it to be potable. You have to put in the work.
For most people, writer’s block isn’t because you don’t know what to create or what to write. Writer’s block happens because you’re afraid of fucking up— of writing something stupid or creating Bad Art. Instead of just creating something just to keep going, you stop.
Writer’s block is your own fun little form of self-sabotage, with a bit of laziness mixed in for colouring. It stops your momentum and makes everything harder to pick back up.
Newton’s First Law of Motion comes to mind here: An object in motion, stays in motion— an object at rest, stays at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
In order to get over this ‘writer’s block’ or creative block— you need to let go of the idea that everything you create needs to be good, or that it should turn out the way you want it to immediately.
You need to focus on achieving and maintaining a momentum. Discipline—That’s your motivation.
The second step is to sit down and just do it. Write a paragraph. Draw a picture. Do something to challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid of looking stupid.
It might feel like pulling teeth, you might feel weird and self-conscious— but this is the digging of your metaphorical wellspring. This is the work you need to do in order to find that flow and inspiration.
Realistically, sometimes you’re not going to find it. Sometimes you can sit down for hours and write and write and write, and still not create anything you think is good. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to hate your work.
But whatever you do, don’t throw it away.
Even if everything you write is awful— save it. More likely than not, It’s better than you think it is. If it isn’t, if your work really is bad: it can be sculpted. It can be revised and transformed into something great.
Art isn’t the creation, and art is anything but perfection.
Art is revision.