“Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
You may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last post. Or if you’ve been following particularly closely, you might even have noticed that I just recently made a new post, but took it down almost immediately afterwards.
This is where a lot of people would cite “writer’s block” and shrug their shoulders. You can’t rush inspiration, the muse comes when she comes, creativity can’t be forced, yadda yadda yadda. (Yes, apparently this post is going to be full of Seinfeld references.)
I don’t believe in writer’s block, or at least it’s not something that happens to me. And I think it’s because I’m not the kind of person who ever gets “inspired” in the first place. Every word I’ve ever written, I’ve been forcing myself to create something- even though almost 100% of the time, I don’t really feel like doing it.
And personally, I think that’s what makes a real artist. A pathological compulsion to express and to create, even when you’re not getting any joy out of it. Or maybe it’s just a nicer way of saying that you’re an arrogant attention-whore who insists that her ideas are worth sharing with the world. Who knows? Not I.
But yeah, I don’t get writer’s block. Because, going by the traditional definition, I always have writer’s block. Not being able to write something without nearly killing myself trying- that’s the default setting. That’s how I operate.
And yet, somehow I still fall into the trap of trying too hard. I can’t get anything done without trying really hard, but if I cross that invisible line into trying too hard, it’s as bad as if I never started at all.
This brings you up to speed and explains what happened to my last post, and the lack of recent posts.
I tried too hard to revive a frequent posting schedule. I tried too hard to make a point that I hadn’t clearly thought out. I tried too hard be a “good” writer, a consistent and clever writer, and in the process I accidentally became the worst kind of writer: the kind who writes “just because.”
That may sound at odds with what I said before, about a true artist having a compulsion to create, but I’ll try to explain.
I don’t get inspired, exactly, but I do get ideas. Ideas that I feel like I need to get out on paper and tell people about, ideas that bubble in my brain and won’t leave me alone until I start getting to work on them. That’s when I write.
Or I write out of obligation, because I’m partway through one of these ideas and I can’t bear to abandon it completely even after the urgency has worn off. I stubbornly maintain the attitude that if I’m going to start something, I have to continually make the effort to finish it, no matter how long it takes and how hopeless or even pointless it now seems.
Good or bad, those are my reasons to write.
But this last time, and actually the last few times, it’s been “just because” I hadn’t written in a while, and I had something that was close enough to being an idea.
And that’s not good enough. And I know it’s not good enough, and so a lot of posts have recently gotten shelved or just straight deleted.
I won’t say I’m waiting for inspiration, because I know it’s not coming. And I won’t say it’s because I’ve been suffering from writer’s block, because I know that’s not the real problem.
But I will say that I’ve been vacillating wildly between trying too hard or just not trying at all. I don’t know why, but lately the needle gets stuck at 0 or at 100, no stopping in-between. And unfortunately, I function best at around 70.
Maybe it’s because, to put it mildly, there’s A Lot Going On Right Now. Maybe it’s just not possible for me to expel the correct amount of effort to write something good until the storm passes.
Or maybe tomorrow everything will be fine. I don’t know.
But in the interim, I felt like I needed to write this post. And that’s something.
I’ll let you be the judge as to how ironic it is that this was, essentially, a post about nothing.