For the past several weeks I have been trying, in vain, to break out of this creative slump I am in. I have searched for tips and tricks (and amassed an arsenal of things to try and share) to get my brain working again. The most frequent commentary from those who do this writing thing for a living? 1. Writers block doesn’t exist. 2. Just do it!
For something that doesn’t exist, writer’s block certainly has some very real effects. The frustration, irritation, annoyance, anger, tears, feeling like you are trapped in a cage even if it is a cage of your own creation. Then there is the drowning. Your chest tightens, you have difficulty breathing, you want to rage at the world and scream “What is wrong with me?! Why can’t I just write something already?!” You clutch and grasp and claw at the wisps of thought as they flit past, hoping, pleading, begging for them to please twist themselves into a plot line, a snippet, something, ANYTHING you can use to drag yourself out of this dismal, festering pit of a creative slump. It starts to effect your entire life. You snap at those around you when they try to engage you in conversation. Why can’t they just leave you alone to wallow in self pity and rehash all your failings?
Sounds a lot like depression doesn’t it? Maybe it is, in a way. Maybe this thing we call writer’s block and which so many insist is not real is a very real from of self inflicted depression. So how do we cure it? Is the cure really so simple as Nike first said all those years ago? It is possible. I think we, as a species, and especially as creative beings often think the simple answer can’t possibly be the way or everyone would be doing what we are finding so difficult. It is difficult, It is damn hard! We have been struggling and suffering for so long … surely such a simple answer can’t possibly be correct?
When one wants to move a mountain they don’t try to push the whole damned thing at once. They stand back and stare, dizzied by the shear height of the task before them. Overwhelmed, uncertain, feeling the weight of all that earth pressing down on them, crushing them. They cry, rage, scream, some give up entirely, certain they will never be up to the challenge. As the masses lay at the foot of the mountain, broken, defeated, a few will stand up. They shake themselves off, grab a shovel and slowly, steadily, one shovel full at a time, the mountain is moved. Our mountain is the stories we want to tell, our shovel the words.
I am going to stand up now. I will pick up my shovel and I will move some dirt. It may not be dirt from the mountain before me, and that is okay. I just need to move some dirt. Build my dirt moving muscles so when I tackle the mountain that first boulder I can see teetering on the side up there doesn’t knock me right back down again.