Friday, November 29, 2019

The Great and Powerful Illusion of Block

One of the many Random Order Comics I drew between 2001-2002.

When I was in Mexico for a recent work trip, alone in the hotel one night, I discovered Alexa Donne's YouTube channel. Now I'll be totally honest here... I clicked on her video because she's super fucking cute. I'm just like that.

But I watched a few of her vids while drawing a Troika! character sheet and I really enjoyed her. She's honest and solid in her advice. I have no idea if she's a good writer or not, but she's good at telling you like it is.

One of her comments was that writer's block isn't real. It's an illusion. You'll know it's not real when you stop whining about it and just make yourself write. Soon the words flow and the "block" is lifted. I get what she's trying to say here and I generally agree. But it's not quite right to say that writer's block isn't a thing. Because it totally is a thing.

Calm down, Donnettes*, let me explain.

Writer's block is not a thing in the sense that there's this one, monolithic problem that prevents you from writing. But if you are a writer and you can't seem to write, then there's something blocking you. That's really all writer's block means, isn't it? For example, maybe my favorite gay uncle just married a woman and I'm existentially confused about it, causing me to lose my mojo and be unable to write for some time. That's a block.

Alexa is talking to YOU, dumbass.
The trick is that these aren't impenetrable blocks. Very few blocks would be legit impenetrable. But they can absolutely feel god damned impenetrable. And of course I'm not just talking about writing books here. This idea applies to all creativity.

Speaking for myself, creativity usually strikes me hard when I have a free block of time and I'm not physically in pain. I can sit at my desk and - usually - accomplish something. But there are times when that doesn't happen. I can tell you that right now at this moment I'm in a little bit of a psychological tailspin and it is definitely affecting my creative time. Maybe that's why I'm blogging about writer's block instead of working on one of my projects or commissions.

Writer's block isn't a thing in the sense that it's objectively real. Writer's block is a thing in the sense that when you fail to write (and you're a writer) then something is blocking you. Unblocking is not always easy.

*I made that up. Cute, huh? If you like Alexa Donne you're a Donnette.

No comments:

Post a Comment