The human mind is a dangerous thing. Most times our brains run amok, thinking random crazy thoughts connected to each other by the most tenuous of tangents. Of course, our thoughts also run along habitual furrows created long ago – ruts. We like to think that we are logical beings; rational creatures making our way in the world. Writers and other creative artists tend to think of themselves as beacons of truth, lighting the way for the rest of humanity. The reality of it is that creative artists have no more of a grasp of truth than anyone else, perhaps less.
It’s a nice thought though, if self-serving. Perhaps artists, who often are more self-conscious than other professionals, feel that if they are part of a higher order of the human race. This being the case, what they think, write paint, and do is important, and demand our attention. The fact is, however, all people and all professionals have access to the same level of creativity. Although some people are able to tap this creativity more readily than others, everyone, no matter what their profession is, is able to tap this reservoir of creativity.
One of the differences between professionals and artists is how they handle personal blocks. Professionals get the job done, no matter how ugly or mean it appears. Their careers depend on providing an acceptable result. If they don’t deliver, they don’t get paid and they don’t eat. Completing the task is their primary responsibility. If it doesn’t come easily, they power through it or find a technique that allows them to dust off their hands and move on to the next job. Artists, on the other hand, fret, pace endlessly, attend workshops on overcoming artist’s block, from support groups and so on. For artists, if it doesn’t flow, something is wrong.
The thing is, blocks are a part of the process just as much as the flow is. Blocks are creations of our own minds and exist for a reason. Sometimes it’s to tell us that we’re taking the story in the wrong direction. Sometimes it’s the brain telling us that it needs more time to come up with a blockbuster story solution. Other times they are manifestations of our fears – of failure, of success, of a lack of knowledge of the subject, of a belief that our readers will expose us as frauds. Blocks exist for an infinite number of reasons. It doesn’t matter. Blocks exist to be broken. They are the curtain that hides the wizard of Oz. They are the ‘go to jail’ cards that stop us from passing ‘go’ and collecting two hundred dollars. And blocks don’t go disappear by trying to workshopping or wishing them away. We break them, we drill through them, and we climb them.
But never give in to them or flee from them – because we’re only fleeing from ourselves. We’re better than that.