Unabridged Me


An undisciplined artist faces writer’s block

September 16, 2020

Most writers will tell you there is a special purgatory saved just for the writer who cannot write. Each experiences writer’s block differently, interpreted through our own sense of art.

For me, the void begins slowly as words lose their importance. Thoughts still run through my head like a babbling brook of meaning, a constant story telling me about what I sense and feel in the world. Despite the existence of these thoughts, I cannot find any words that strike the right balance in communication, of sharing how a world of observation and imagination are playing out within my head. The slope steepens as my feelings and thoughts separate, my writing taking on a distanced and unemotional tone as letters are typed onto a blank screen but my feelings and interpretations have fled to a quiet corner inside myself. The last stop in my downward slide is when my intellect flees for more fertile ground, objective observations abandoning me to sit in a dark abyss without words.

Most writers will tell you that writing is the essence of who we are. People will ask why did you want to be a writer? There is no answer for this question. I have always written, sometimes as a means to release intense emotion and, within the last few years, as an art to share with the world. A block in writing means a part of a writer is gone, like an existential arm that has been amputated. We feel its presence though it does no good for us.

Artists and scientists the world around, both contemporary and historical, will say that solitude is a necessity for art. I contemplate this question as I engage in a staring match with my writer’s block. Am I too busy in the world? Has the chaos of remote schooling and pandemic and all the things that have occurred in the last year pulled me outside of myself, building a blockade within my own mind? The idea has merit. After all, some of my best stories were written while my daughter was in school and I sat in a silent house as my mom slept through her illness.

No, I reject this answer.

Though deafening silence was my companion as I wandered through the daily routine of medical procedures, I was not alone. I was immersed in a constant tension of life versus death, stubborn will versus disease, and the quiet regret and resentment of my mother versus the bubbling life and action of my daughter. My art is not that of philosophy or great thoughts of innovation and imagination, requiring isolation from impeding distractions. My art is the underlying emotion and motivations that drive humans as they interact with each other and the world.

Could it be my own perfectionism and expectations are getting in the way of communicating with my muse? That I push away my writing as inconsequential as I compare myself to a world full of people who interpret and create breathtaking beauty? Also an idea with merit. I am my own worst critic, suffering from imposter syndrome with almost every endeavor.

Again, this has not stopped me before. My own harsh judgement of my writing does not stop me from writing. Instead, it propels me forward to find more unique ideas, combine more perfect words, and paint a more thorough world for a reader.

As I stare deep into the eyes of my adversary, I must be honest with myself. My writer’s block is a creation of being an undisciplined artist. Solitude is my friend, yet I am lazy when I have time to myself. The challenge to create the most perfect feeling drives my creativity, yet I do not accept the challenge. I allow my ideas to flow in and out of my consciousness without proper attention. I have neglected my muse so long that she no longer wishes to visit me.

Yes, I am an undisciplined artist. Also, I accept I have cut off my own arm with an unwillingness to sit down and confront feelings locked inside my chest. I have set my tools on fire in an attempt to move forward in life. I have abandoned the one thing that gives me release in this life.

Despite these choices, the urge to write still pulls at me daily, creating additional pain as I struggle to find words and ideas. Today this urge spilled out as I am no longer able to hold in my need to write and my frustration at sitting in the void. A friend said to me just sit and write. Even if it is crap, words on a page is better than nothing.

So today I just write.