Wow, I could finally find some headspace to sit down and write. With my desk surrounded with notepads, pens and a regular cup of coffee, I am all set. The cursor keeps blinking, and I find myself staring at the wall thinking about pizzas and true love. I somehow gather myself and violently type whatever random words come to my mind and read that sentence in seven different voices. Then I delete everything and find myself wondering if I could ever be able to finish this article.
This is my constant struggle with writing and I guess I could say it’s pretty much the same with all content creators. Not that all content creators think of pizzas and true love while they’re working but you get the point, right?
This is what I like to call, “The Tyranny of Creativity”, because “writer’s block” is already taken and it’s not something that is only experienced by writers. A lot of time, we find ourselves in the middle of a creative block, not because we turn into a blank slate but because of the misconceptions that we have bred inside us, which hinders us from exercising the full potential of our minds. I believe the creative block is a purely psychological phenomenon and can be turned around if we eradicate some of the misconceptions we have about creating something.
Misconception #1- The Exceptional Bus
Imagine a bus filled with all the exceptional people you admire. Maybe all your favourite writers, musicians, actors, sportsperson all jammed up in a cranky old bus. Whenever someone coughs or scratches their nose, someone’s already got something clever to say. You sit there and wonder how intellectual and smart all these people are. You wish you were like them. The problem with “The Exceptional Bus” is that it doesn’t exist, and no one is smart and intellectual all the time. A lot of people we admire and imagine to be exceptional are in fact, ordinary, just like the rest of us. They have insecurities and problems, plus they don’t shower for days just like you.
We have this misconception that whatever we create or write about should be exceptional all the time. This causes us to pay close attention to the words we choose and pick out only the most beautiful ones, making our idea look like a red velvet cake with a cherry on top.
A few years ago, I was maintaining this blog about a romantic fictional story; it sucked more than the poem you wrote for your girlfriend on her birthday. What would you expect an immature nineteen-year-old who was just going through a breakup to do? I was pouring out my insecurities into a fictional story, which makes me cringe every time I read it now. But I am proud in a way, because I did not care whoever read it or how well arranged the plot for the story was. I was just ramming my keyboard like a lunatic without any expectations. This made me realize how much I actually enjoyed writing.
It’s not about being perfect, it’s about loving what you do.
Misconception #2- The Magical Inspiration
Inspiration can come to us in the most awkward of moments, maybe an apple might fall on top of your head or you’ll be enjoying a warm bath and suddenly a stroke of genius, “Eureka!”
These beautiful stories of creative geniuses who have experienced these sudden flashes of insights make us wonder if such an idea will ever occur to us. What we fail to realize is countless of hours they have put in to understand something which causes this stroke of genius.
If you are watching “Stranger Things” all the time, arguing to your mother about the salt in your chicken soup, hoping that you’ll find the cure to cancer, you are only deluding yourself. While magical inspirations surely result in groundbreaking ideas, it is wise not to wait for it but instead, we must work for it.
Stephen King’s books have sold over 350 million copies and many have been adapted into movies. He has published over 54 novels and 200 short stories. He doesn’t wait for magical inspiration, he just writes 5 pages a day.
The cure to writer’s block is actually writing.
Misconception #3:- Follow Your Passion
While some of us want to follow our passion, we do not want to spend the time and effort required to achieve it. The internet has got us all chanting the three words, “Follow Your Passion” but nobody wants to spend countless of hours researching, working and building. We only want the glory associated with it but we do not want the struggle that comes with it.
If you don’t like spending countless of hours writing content that no one will read. If you don’t like sitting in front of your computer for three hours because you’d rather be at your girlfriend’s tea party, then I’m sorry writing is not for you. However, that is completely okay because we are all good at something and bad at something.
I never could really ride a bicycle, sounds stupid but it’s true. I didn’t really like the idea of tripping over a bicycle. Later in my school days, I learned to dance and did pretty well but as years progressed on, I realised that I didn’t really enjoy all those rehearsal sessions.
Just because you’re good at something does not mean you should do it, unless you are willing to face all the adversities that come with it.
The Tyranny of Creativity is real and can render people with hopelessness, if certain misconceptions are not eradicated.
The other day, I was listening to an interview of Kurt Vonnegut on “Man Eating Lampreys” and it fascinated me when he stated that “nothing means anything- artists make their living by pretending, by putting their ideas in a meaningful hole, though no such holes exist.”
We have seen several creative geniuses kill themselves, the reason being the expectation that we have put on these writers, creators, artists that they are the vessels of creativity.
It’s like reaching into the mouth of an artist and taking hold of a piece of tape in the back of the mouth without getting bitten and saying what the hell is written on it, and then keep pulling it out. It becomes an exhausting thing to do and a lot of artists decline to do it anymore, it becomes too unpleasant.
Then he recites his story, “The Big Space Fuck” which was clearly meaningless, remotely suggesting that meaninglessness is what we need.
Here’s a meaningless poem about pizzas and true love.
Pizzas are true love,
Love is like pizzas because it is cheesy.
Pizzas make you hungry,
Love sometimes makes you horny.
Freewheeling on impermanence.