Category Archives: Artist’s Block

I need to write.

Okay. Let me be straight with you.

Normally, on a good day, I am churning out something around 10,000 words per day. In total. All the papers I have to write for school, website esoterica, dabbling in science fiction, poetry, etc.

When I am in a good writing streak, it seems as if everything in the world, and what the world decides to throw our way, no matter how tumultuous, is in its place and is very easily navigated. Writing my feelings, thoughts, ideas, or even a scribble or two allow me to organize my mind, get rid of some psychic clutter, and just relax.

In other words, it gives me perspective and control. Most of the time, the words flow as easily as turning on tap water. I essentially write the way that I speak, and write the words as I think them. I don’t try to be pretentious or do alot of edits as I am writing. (Okay, so I am a stickler for editing once the post has been made…) But I am more of a “stream of consciousness” kind of writer.


magnetic poetry
And now the tap is off. I won’t exactly say that its writer’s block. I have plenty of good post ideas waiting to be explored. We went out this weekend and I have a few gallery reviews to write. I have some interesting (to me, at least) musings about spirituality, thoughts on Tao, and even recipes.

So its less like writer’s block and more like a knot. Its like there’s this big lump or coil of rope inside the place that occupies my spirit and seems to be preventing me from conveying things on paper. There are ideas, but there is this strange, tangled, heavy knot inside.

Knots like this, for me, can lead to stress over silly things, a misplaced perspective, and a misunderstanding of the world around me.

So, right now, I am writing about the KNOT. Hopefully, it will see this post, and maybe, just maybe, I can straighten things out in my head and get them tapped out on the keyboard.

Alright, at least I have written about something. Let’s see if this helps.

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Stepping out of the world…

I love to write. Primarily, I write fiction. I also have quite a number of papers that I must write in school at any given moment, my various journals, poetry, and of course, contributing to surrealmuse.com. I generally write anywhere upwards of about 10,000 words a day. Yup, I like to write as much as I like to talk. Any of you that have met me in person know that’s quite a bit.

For the last few weeks, however, I have found myself writing the bare minimum. I am at somewhat of a block in the creative process for my latest fiction endeavor. A crossroads in the story arch, and I am thinking about throwing away a few chapters and rewriting in some new characters.

Throw that in with the fact that I have the travel bug, and you have some major writer’s block. I have had this absolutely insane urge to travel. Since starting school last year, along with the obligations of owning a home, it can be very easy to get bogged down with routines, chores, and daily tasks that aren’t particularly conducive to the creative process.

But sometimes, you just have to wipe the schedule clean and make an artist date. And that’s what we did this weekend.

We have quite a number of things we wanted to get accomplished this weekend. There is always the never-ending battle with a Florida lawn, and laundry, and homework, and blah blah blah etc…

But we woke up on Saturday, and decided to just wipe the schedule clean, and do anything but the routine. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on St. Pete Beach with friends, swimming, sunning, and just enjoying a darn near perfect day.

St. Pete Beach
We roamed the beach and St. Pete, with no particular destination. We walked through parks we had never seen before, hit little beach dives and sampled foods, and made a few friends.

Boys at Play
We left the beach around sunset, and yes, it was a gorgeous, picture perfect sunset…

St. Pete Beach Sunset
Afterwards, we decided to go hit the Art Walk in downtown St. Pete. We went club hopping, and just did our best to avoid the clock. We mingled, talked, and just did anything but go home, until much later in the evening.

Downtown St. Pete
Of course, this morning, the chores are still waiting for us. But that’s okay… Sometimes, it pays to forget about many of the near-meaningless busy work and tasks that we assign to ourselves from week to week, and simply enjoy life for the moment, or the moment after that, but not much more beyond that. Sometimes, it pays to step outside of “the real world” for a bit and simply exist in a state of quiet enjoyment at your surroundings, the company you are keeping, and the simple pleasure of fried bar food.

And, when I awoke this morning, my writer’s block had been miraculously solved.

I’d like to offer you a challenge. When you feel most overwhelmed by the mundane every tasks of the world, make it a point to try to grab a weekend in your own backyard. Visit parts of your town that you’ve never been to. Just grab a loved one, get in the car, and DRIVE.

Driving to the Beach
Don’t have a particular plan, and just get out there in the world, and enjoy being in the moment. Sometimes, we need to step outside of the real world for a little bit. It will always be waiting for you when you care to come back.

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drawing as a form of meditation

Goddess

The past two years I have told myself that I’m going to get serious and practice my drawing skills. I even got a couple books on the topic. The first one, The Artist’s Sketchbook, seemed so inspirational at the bookstore. But when I got home, it felt more like homework than a fun pursuit. So the next book I purchased, The Creative License, appeared to approach the topic in a very constructive yet experimental way that might somehow reach my inner artist. But alas, I have yet to try a single exercise. So yes, I might be lazy you might say. And mr. muse is probably not going to let me buy another book on drawing. So what’s a muse to do?!

Well, on my last major spending spree at the art store to get mats, I picked up a new hardbound sketchbook. And one day, I just sat down with my sketchbook, my soft pastels, and started to sketch away. I didn’t have a plan on what I was going to draw. I didn’t have a goal of a skill that I was going to develop. I just sketched away to my little heart’s content. And five sketches later, I’m starting to understand why I was having difficulty with the books.

If you’ve read any of Julia Cameron’s books that reference the basic tenant of The Artist’s Way, then you’ll probably remember the three pages-a-day rule. Basically, the idea behind it was that by spending time every day to write, we would sift through the clutter thoughts that fill our mind and allow our intuition a place to speak when it felt so inclined.

So of course, now, I’m having that duh! moment when it comes to drawing because it really is the same concept. And part of me is why Julia didn’t offer a “plan b” for us visual artists. So instead of writing, we would draw. Or supplement the writing with drawing. But either way, the drawing would come in a form that we felt in home with.

For me, that’s soft pastels. For others, it might be collage or traditional drawing tools. But really, I think the key is finding the key to the methods you communicate best.

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Different Forms of Artist’s Block

With this recent experience with artist’s block, I’m coming to realize that it is caused by different reasons. For some, it maybe as simple as lack of ideas, which can be remedied by taking your inner artist on an adventure. Go out to art galleries, art museums, maybe even the thrift store…anything that will tantalize the inner artist and spark a source of inspiration. Interacting with fellow artist whether on the web or in person is another great way to help fight this form of artist block. And while it can be a struggle, in time…the ideas will come to you when the moment is right.

This current form of artist’s block that I am currently experiencing is harder to work through because it is more of a mental block, an inner struggle of my artist mind. I don’t know quite how to describe other than my art started to touch on a subject matter that can best be describe as dangerous art…something that challenges us…and I don’t know if I am quite ready.

Creating art to me is much more than just applying paint to canvas. Creating art is a sacred experience. When I create art, it comes from the inner depths of my soul…it expresses things I cannot explain in word or thought in quite the way I can visually.

While the book I have on artist’s block, Fearless Creating, it good for the first form of artist block I mentioned…it doesn’t quite address what I am going through right now. It doesn’t contain exercises that would help me work through this mental block so I have been considering creating my own and sharing it here in hopes that my experience might help other artists out there that might be struggling as well.

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Dangerous Art

The other night I dragged out my book on artist block, Fearless Creating, in hopes that it might spark some inspiration to create art once more since typically I only have to re-read the first chapter to find my muse. Well, this time was different…this time I started to understand one of the chapters that discusses dangerous art with greater clarity. When I first read it years ago, I didn’t quite understand the implications…until that point in my artistic life…I had never encountered danger art. To me, all art was good. I didn’t quite comprehend the bounds that our art can challenge us until I felt it myself.

While it is easy to tell another artist to keep exploring, when it comes to dangerous art, it’s just not that simple. Dangerous art not only challenges the viewer, it challenges the creator. As Eric Maisel states in Fearless Creating:

When you hold the desire to create deeply, you bypass the top of your mind, you bypass your safety net of formula, you bypass marketing considerations, and you travel to a region where truth resides. And what is the truth if not dangerous? Will you choose to work on the idea that arises from that place? Will you choose to do that dangerous thing? For what the work based on a truthful idea reveals may not be pretty. It may not please your parents. It may not please the people you expose. It may not please you, when you stop and see that you had that inside you. Why, then do it? For the sake of truth and beauty and for the sake of authentic living. Period. But the decision to make such a choice remains a hard one.

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Where does one begin?

RegretIn our culture of the now, we often demand the things we want. But often the greatest things in life cannot be bought or forced…love being one…creativity being another. Both of these forces in life have to come to you when the moment is right…

When the muse enters your life, she sweeps you off your feet. She leaves you feeling giddy and full of life. It’s a wonderful sensation. Her presence fills the mind with ideas that demand to be expressed…often keeping an artist up late into the night. But eventually, you’ll start to notice that she doesn’t stop by…and she certainly doesn’t return your phone calls…her absence leaves you aching…aching for that moment of release…so what is an artist to do?!

Do we sit by the phone waiting for her to call? Or do we get on with life…with the idea that it was her loss and if she knows better…she’ll return because we’re the god damn best artist she’s ever known? Well, I suppose, one shouldn’t be that cocky. After all, the muse is a bit of a floozy…going from one artist to another. And if we’re not careful, she might give us a nasty case of artist block. Oh wait, she did…hmm…maybe I should pick a more respected muse next time, eh?

So how does one go about picking up the pieces after the greatest love affair with the muse of their life? Somedays are hard. Somedays you want to pick up right where you left off, but every stroke is bland…nothing has the momentum and energy of when she was in your life. It is quite disheartening.

Somedays, you think about calling her…but you know she’d just laugh in your face..taunting you…

Once you have the taste of the muse, there is no return…you long for her…you desire her…but as with all things in life…if you reach a roadblock…you must move on…but where does one begin? That is the question…

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