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The Looking Glass: Blocked Off

Ah, yes, writer’s block. The reason I haven’t finished an article for this column in almost a month and a half. The reason many artists go crazy and lose faith in their ability to create. Why must such an evil exist? Why must creators suffer? Why is there no escape? How is it so easy for a personal outlet to be taken?

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood Image via: www.randomhouse.com.au
“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood Image via: www.randomhouse.com.au

For those who, like me, thrive on that outlet, it is a new kind of Hell to have zero idea what to do. There is no algorithm for creating a next step, no formula for coming up with something else to make happen. This doesn’t just happen in writing, it can happen in art, in life, at the office, anywhere that requires some kind of procurement of an idea. It can cause procrastination, questioning of life choices/oneself, and many internal crises. More than just feeling a block on one aspect of my life, I feel a sense of being completely blocked off from the way I see the world best and the way that I communicate with myself. As you can imagine, that feeling sucks.

"When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” - Maya Angelou
“When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” – Maya Angelou

I wish that I could refer to a definitive list of ways to overcome these feelings, but I don’t have that magical list. I have no idea how to get over that block. I’m slowly figuring it out, but the big fear is that it will never be an issue that is resolved. I’m an art major and will probably always continue writing. If it is not an issue that goes away, my career will probably suffer.

Perhaps it’s an inspiration flaw. When around fellow artists or writers, the phrase “drawing inspiration” constantly comes up, and maybe the real problem is that I have no idea how to do that. I am writing this on a deck on a house in the country with a beautiful view, and I am still struggling to come up with the words to put in this article. I constantly listen to podcasts that make me see/think about things differently, and I still can’t translate that into an idea. I have an amazing group of friends that will always talk about ideas and theories and anything else. Yet, somehow, I am still struggling. I know that there are others as confused as I am when somebody says they spent some time looking at the sunset and got a brilliant idea for a piece. How come somebody else can so easily read a quote from their favorite author and suddenly be set to go again?

Then comes the real question in this long string of “what ifs” that come from being blocked. Am I really an artist if I don’t know how to draw inspiration? Am I really a writer if I’m struggling to write about, of all things, my greatest passion? Am I kidding myself even trying, or is this something that everybody goes through constantly?

But of course, I’m not kidding myself. Every artist has their block, which is why it can be so damn hard sometimes. We create, and our well-being is based on the quality of our own work and how other people perceive it. Qualifying myself as an artist or a writer only depends on how I value my own work and therefore how I handle this writer’s block. So far I’m handling it by brainstorming more ideas for articles, and coming up with ideas for a potential new column. I’m trying to write more when I have the chance about whatever I can. I’m trying to come up with things that I could draw when I have the chance to sit down and draw them. I’m thinking of projects I could try for the intermedia class that I am taking in the fall. So far it’s a lot of thinking about things and experimenting, which is something that everybody has to do. It connects me to myself more than being blocked off could even disconnect me from myself. It is a comforting thought.

"Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials." - Paul Rudnick Image via: www.paulrudnick.com
“Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” – Paul Rudnick
Image via: www.paulrudnick.com

So, step one for getting over this writer’s block is to do what seems natural: write a column about it and post it on the internet. I’ve been working on this for weeks, and now I’m done with it. Maybe this will make it easier to sit down and write about Frida Kahlo, or comic book/graphic novel art, or synesthesia, or the capitalistic side of the art industry, or aesthetic, or the concept of an album, or whatever else I want to write about. I am excited to see what I come up with after this block is gone, and I hope that it is all created soon.

[SHAMELESS PLUGS: here are my Instagram and Twitter if you would like to keep updated on what I’m doing next]

The Looking Glass is a bimonthly column that aims to analyze and share different aspects and forms of art. It will focus on different artists, writing, music/musicians, exhibitions, etc. Along with this, the column will ask questions and point out interesting controversies. Art is a constantly flowing and vast part of our society and culture that we are all submerged in daily, and discussion about the medium is a critical part of a full understanding and open mind.