writer's block - the virus of self doubtA wise man once said "AMBITION is the last refuge of failures". Sounds true. When we're talking about real ARTISTS and real ART, the kind of ambition that always stinks up the WORK ROOM worst is commercial avarice, a hunger for money, a desire to write the next COMMERCIAL HIT. And in that case, it is entirely appropriate that AMBITION should go with failure,-- as a human being, as an artist. And appropriate that the guy who's wandering around in commercial hunger should fail to have glorious, heavenly, brilliant artistic ideas.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer's_block READ THIS FIRST.
ARTISTS are in a poignant YIN BRAIN sensitivity to what's going on, the pain, the passions, the feelings. Commercial hunger is YANG BRAIN, MENTAL, the antithesis of THAT! So if you even go there, you're miles away from ART!
And while we're mapping the territories of inspiration & wandering around this tangled jungle of cause and effect, ---fear of commercial FAILURE should indeed be an obstacle to the firing up of one's artistry. And guess what. It is!
The artist who's blind to end results, who's just inspired by some passion, or some wild idea, or some INTERESTING MOOD will always find he has an interesting TILT to his world view which is more likely to be the 'BUILD THE FIELD IT WILL COME" attractor or recipient of a lightning bolt of creative 'conception' than someone who's thinking, 'lemme see, what'll be the next X-MEN?"
Check the theorem this way: can you imagine the fellow who invented the idea for some mega schlock film like GODZILLA ATTACKS MANHATTAN being in a condition of artistic embryonic fertile excitement when the idea hit? No, he was probably fearing where his next mortgage payment was coming from.
Most of us artists want our PILOT LIGHT to IGNITE with some high concept great idea so that we can create great works of art, timely ones, the NEXT FAUST, THE NEXT DICKENS' CHRISTMAS CAROL & SCROOGE" the next GONE WITH THE WIND. But face it. We are in total ARTIST'S BLOCK most of the time. Walking around from taco to taco, semi-stuporous.
WHAT causes that block? While I believe in the metaphysics of art, and feel that people with HIGH STEEPLES raised to the skies are more likely to attract a good lightning bolt, I also postulate that a great deal of what prevents us from raising our pens to the sky is that SCHLOCK CONCERN related to fear of commerical failure. "Oh, this song won't cut it. Oh this novela is like a thousand others and won't sell. " Tthere's a way around being haunted by that dollar green spectre.
If we define TRUE AMBITION as a state where your creative fire has been ignited, what is the key to turn that motor on? We know that THE FIRING UP of creativity automatically ignites the motor and with it, the wheels and pistons. The windows go up and own. The lights go on. One can create if we just had the key that turns on the ignition. The PILOT light of artistic excitement is the motor and that will take care of everything else. What is that key? Where do we get it?
Imagine where Van Gogh got it. Can you imagine betrayed, depressed, tired, ill-fed, hungover, crazy VAN GOGH, his ear still aching and no tylenol in sight, looking at the bereft, scraggly burnt field in Provence with the crows flying around starving and we can almost hear him saying 'wow, Whatta trip. Where's my paint?"
Or imagine GOETHE sitting on the toilet, reading the morning paper, morose because the gorgeous blonde in the ground floor apartment won't date him and suddenly he's getting that one feverish thought, "Man, I'd trade my soul to the devil if I could get that girl" and suddenly there's enough writer present for him to still go 'WOW, what a high concept plot that would be.' And zing! "FAUST" was born. The pilot light ignited with that one lightning bolt of a thought from nowhere. What artist could be in a condition of BLOCK with a vision like these igniting his fires? I'll bet he ran to his worktable with his pants around his legs!
If ANOTHER big KILLER for the artist's fire is the fear that he bit off more than he could chew and couldn't finish, and he's old and he'd probably die before he finishes it, why not START a regimen of healthfoods meanwhile asking the heavens to give you time. If you had only a year, hey, who wants to spend his last years tied to a worktable when you could be out inhaling fresh air and seeing sights? Who wnts his heirs to find a half finished play which of course, they would toss into the trash?
The final block is self judgement. I shouldn't be writing. I should be X and be content with Y. Julia Cameron wrote THE ARTIST's WAY, a book about writers and the problems of block vs. creation. Get it at the library. As Mrs. Martin Scorsese she had the 'famous husband. ' block.
So, let us ponder artistic block, causes, cures.
Many things can cause writer's block. Depression, fatigue, economic pressures, being sidetracked by a big schedule. Of course that didn't stop Vincent Van Gogh. He had all those plus insanity, bad friends, lonliness a broken heart, starvation, no vitamins, schizophrenia, delusions and he sitll produced!
So let us look elsewhere. A big killer is SELF INVALIDATION, SELF - DOUBT. This hits famous people a lot as there's publicity about them that often is "TEAR DOWN GOSSIP." Stung by that, reading this fountain of jealous verbage which is only to earn the gossip monger a buck or two, and is not based in reality,' can indeed put a cap on the artist's interior life. Being critiqued in public has stopped many a great artist from coming out with more great art. So one must never read one's reviews or the gossip about one. LIkewise the edicts of family/friends can be equally fatal.
When you are blocked, consider these causes and try the strategies that sound most promising to change the schedule, relieve $ worries and eradicate self-doubt.
IF You have attempted to begin a 'paper' we'll call it, but we refer to a song lyric, script, novel, short story or poem, --without doing any preliminary work such as brainstorming or outlining...
refer to "When You Start to Write" at
These specific strategies in overcoming writer's block will prove more
helpful when you're drafting the paper. If you're having trouble coming up
with a thesis or generating details, see a Writing Lab tutor or the handout
"When You Start to Write" at
Begin in the Middle
Start writing at whatever point you like. If you want to begin in the
middle, fine. Leave the introduction or first section until later. The
reader will never know that you wrote the paper "backwards." Besides, some
writers routinely save the introduction until later when they have a
clearer idea of what the main idea and purpose will be.
Talk the Paper
"Talk" the paper to someone--your teacher, a friend, a roommate, a tutor in
the Writing Lab. Just pick someone who's willing to give you fifteen to
thirty minutes to talk about the topic and whose main aim is to help you
start writing. Have the person take notes while you talk or tape your
conversation. Talking will be helpful because you'll probably be more
natural and spontaneous in speech than in writing. Your listener can ask
questions and guide you as you speak, and you'll feel more as though you're
telling someone about something than completing an assignment.
Tape the Paper
Talk into a tape recorder, imagining your audience sitting in chairs or
standing in a group. Then, transcribe the tape-recorded material. You'll at
least have some ideas down on paper to work with and move around.
Change the Audience
Pretend that you're writing to a child, to a close friend, to a parent, to
a person who sharply disagrees with you, to someone who's new to the
subject and needs to have you explain your paper's topic slowly and
clearly. Changing the audience can clarify your purpose. (Who am I writing
to when I explain how to change the oil in a car? That guy down the hall
who's always asking everyone for help.) Changing the audience can also make
you feel more comfortable and help you write more easily.
Play a Role
Pretend you are someone else writing the paper. For instance, assume you
are the president of a strong feminist movement such as NOW and are asked
to write about sexist advertising. Or, pretend you are the president of a
major oil company asked to defend the high price of oil. Consider being
someone in another time period, perhaps Abraham Lincoln, or someone with a
different perspective from your own on things--someone living in Hiroshima
at the time the bomb was dropped. Pulling yourself out of your usual
perspective can help you think more about the subject than writing about
the subject. OR start talking to a photograph of a lot of people, hang it on the
wall. Pretend you're at a podium and start downloading what's in your skull.
Why I care, What the problem is. What we can do.
1. Don't obsess on one thing -- have more than one
project going at a time and if you get stuck on one, move to another.
2. Commit to finishing everything you start -- if you've left a
project, commit to returning to it; continue to work on the problem.
3. Change the mode of putting down words -- if you're stuck on the word
processor try a dictation machine or writing by hand; or change where you
write -- go outside, or to a friendly coffee shop, or the library.
4. Get some physical exercise -- go out and walk; mow the lawn --
physical activity of the pleasant and slightly mindless kind seems to
precipitate mental activity of the kind that promotes creativity.
5. The Anita Sands method. Absolutely INFALLIBLE.
LAST DITCH and most powerful. Go to your computer. Light a stick of
incense, light a candle. Put your paws together & PRAY to GOD to
banish this block. Tell God that you know you can do a few hours of clear,
crisp writing on the project and do it well. Say God, 'get me over this hump,
this sense of being blocked, please. " Then, blow out candle and have right there
a big cup of black coffee. You will then turn on the PC, sit down and focus.
Or get your guitar and compose the next "Hey Jude." See THE ART OF PRAYER.
GET HYPNOTIZED by a friend, for free, to eradicate your considerations, your fears, to get the minor anxieties totally out of your brain. This is similar to what SCIENTOLOGY does. They dig in your unconscious, find self-invalidating ideas, remembrances of pain and cut them out as if they were TUMORS.
There are instructions online on how to produce a trance and do 'post-hypnotic suggestions' You can do auto programming at bedtime and dawn, saying to yourself, aloud. "I love writing and reading and I know I can do what I love well enough to get published. I am going to drop those fears. One fear I have that I am droppign is the belief that finishing a book or script would take too many years. And that spending that much time locked in a work room makes me a potential loser. My heirs will toss the half finished work when I pass.
Or I probably couldn't go to all those studio meetings or on all those talk shows. I'm just not up to it. I'm not presentable enough or I live too far away from New York and HOllywood. And Here's one "FAME would not suit me, I'm too weird, too much of a hick."
How do we drop those? Tell ourselves the opposite thing. I'm interesting, I'm unique. Recall the authors who were hicks, Bobbie Mason comes to mind. A real country girl. Mark Twain! Or the writer Twain admired so much, Sholom Aleichem. A hick from Minsk.
FOUND ONLINE: W-Block eradication FOR STUDENTS
IF You have chosen or been assigned a topic which bores you....
THEN choose a subject you are interested in (if the teacher will allow it)
*talk to a tutor about how you can personalize a topic to make it more
You don't want to spend time writing or don't understand the
resign yourself to the fact that you have to write the paper
find out what is expected of you (consult a teacher, textbook,
student, or tutor)
try some of the strategies listed above
You are anxious about writing the paper...
refer to the OWL Handout Coping with Writing Anxiety at
Talk to a friend who writes if you're self-conscious about the writing situation, you may have trouble
getting started. So, if you're preoccupied with the idea that you have to
write about a subject and feel you probably won't express your most
original thoughts regarding the subject...
talk over the subject with a friend or tutor
use one of the specific strategies listed below
You can't stand to write down an idea until it is perfectly worded or
if you don't want to leave a poorly worded section on the page after you've
ease up on your self-criticism
force yourself to write down something, however poorly worded that
approximates your thought (you can revise this later) and go on with the
use some of the specific strategies below
break the task up into steps. Meet the general purpose of the
You are worrying about what your teacher or other reader will think of
your paper or how harshly he or she will evaluate it...
think of the present draft as a practice run. Write the draft
quickly, and revise it later.
NOTE: Personal stories related to this are invited by this writer I'm at astrology At earthlink dot net
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