Sometimes it’s all about one’s perspective.
As a writer, we’ve all been there, squinting at a blank page, biting the end of a cheroot like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. Most of the time, we’re wondering what in the heck we’re going to write about this time.
What thought or idea are we going to write about today? Are we ready to slap leather and pull the trigger?
Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but sometimes it feels that way, doesn’t it? Not the spaghetti western, leather slapping, trigger pulling part necessarily. I’m talking about laying something down even halfway decent daily. It can sometimes, most times, be a mortal struggle.
And…here’s where the perception change needs to begin.
The problem is not the content or rather lack thereof. The problem is whether or not we’ve got enough creative spark to do it all over again.
Take it from someone who has been there at high noon, staring down a blank page wondering what in the heck I’m going to write. This is what I’ve discovered, albeit painfully.
If we stare at a blank page long enough, do you know what we’ll see?
No, not a totally white cow standing alone in the middle of a blizzard.
Well, maybe depending on how much of that bottle of wine we just guzzled.
We’ll see nothing but a blank page.
As a writer, we don’t even get the benefit of a Rorschach splatter. Unless your therapist sends you off with some clean sheets of paper and an ink bottle for homework.
It could happen.
The paper or the screen is just a bone-white space, barren of any ideas and thoughts because you emptied your brain with all that writing from yesterday.
As barren as you may be thinking your brain is right now.
That’s the fundamental problem with us writers. We may work for days, months, even years pouring it out, and then as sudden as Vietnamese monsoon rains in a Forest Gump movie stop, we’re done.
And here we are with that blank page again.
Why are we using only one of our five senses to produce a creative streak, when we could be using all of them? Why are we sitting here staring at that torturous blank page until our eyes bleed?
Instead of just using our eyes to stare at words we’re not writing and starting to feel emotionally bankrupt, maybe we should begin to try something else to boost that creative spark.
Maybe we need to try listening to music, letting our souls move with the flow. Or bake or cook some of our favorite foods, telling ourselves its the best food we’ve ever eaten in our lives.
Even when it isn’t.
How about smelling the distinct scents of a walk through a pinewood forest or the aroma of salt-laden ocean breezes as you stroll along a sandy beach barefoot, the sand squishing up between your toes.
Many different writers utilize various methods for re-energizing the creative spark.
As a writer, and especially when you find you’re creatively diminished, you have to find the one that works for you.
The list of how to find and keep the creativity alive is exhaustive. It’s challenging, yes, but it should be a literal and self-imposed mandate.
But to be sure, just like a five-year-old car battery in the dead of winter or the scorching Texas heat, an artist’s creative spark will ebb and flow, diminish and if you let it, ultimately flare up into that last tiny spark and die.
I know. The pressure’s on, and wow, sometimes it’s really intense.
But hey, we signed on for this merry-go-round. Remember that. It’s our job to create and present our creativity to the world.
It’s the mission we signed on for when we took up the pen and officially proclaimed to the entire world…
We Are Writers.
So have we really run out of things to write, or is the charging indicator on our creative spark meter low, or even worse, on E? Keep in mind that how we discover or produce our creations is entirely up to us, but for an artist, continuing to create should be an all-consuming passion.
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. — Michelangelo
A simple sentence, but it goes a long way in describing how to define the creative spark. Everything we come in contact with is an opportunity to create.
For example. Imagine walking past driftwood on a beach or old sticks lying on the ground of some trail. Would you even bother to give them a moment of your time?
Well, Canadian artist, Debra Bernier looks at these haggard pieces of wood from a completely different perspective. Instead of gazing at just a piece of wood she’s staring into the face of another creation.*
Her work is simply amazing, and she’s just one of many who produce beautifully sculpted works in stone, clay, and yes driftwood.
The point I’m making with Michelangelo and Debra Bernier is that they let the world around them, the blocks of stone, the pieces of wood, inspire an image of creation, of beauty the stone or wood can become.
They “see” something which evokes a vision of what’s inside, and they then work to free this fantastical creation from the confines of its disfigured and ugly exterior.
As a writer, we need to do the same. Stop staring at a blank page thinking blank thoughts.
Take a look around you and find an idea, any idea, no matter how disgustingly ugly and sparse it is at the time. Then nurture it. Feed it words, help it grow and unfurl its wings, and then let it fly.
I often tell my friends and associates that no, I’m not a sculptor or someone with a flair for putting oil to canvas.
I paint pictures with words.
Let me say that just a little differently.
We, writer friends, paint pictures with words.
Find your creative spark, recharge it if necessary, and forget about whether or not you have something to write about.
You need to be creating.
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© P.G. Barnett, 2019. All Rights Reserved.