Hey there, readers.
How’s it going? I hope your holiday preparations are going well. Our holiday prep is fairly low-key, which is awesome, but as is with every year, our vow to keep things under a tight budget has more or less gone out the window. Whoops! Maybe next year.
Something else that seems to have gone right out the window, what with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and also moving our apartment around, has been my writing inspiration. Every time I sit down to write this one particular podcast episode, I can’t think of a single gosh-darn thing to write! It shouldn’t be that hard, given the episode involves giant bears who inhabit a stone forest. Pretty dang cool, right? So why can’t I write?
The writing world seems to be split into two camps. One camp claims that the artist’s muse is a fleeting thing, capricious and fickle. It fully allows for an artist to say, “I’m blocked, I can’t make any new work” until something eventually inspires them again. The opposite camp claims writer’s block doesn’t exist, and that inspiration happens while one is writing. This camp encourages writers to muscle through the blocks, to keep writing even though they know it’ll be bad. Sometimes…these two camps can get rather salty at each other. Things get said, feelings get hurt, and lots of inexperienced writers sit, bewildered, between the two.
I’m not really in either camp, myself. Never been terribly outdoorsy. I can, however, see the merit of both camps. I like the free spirit of the muse camp, and how poetic it is to imagine one’s personal muse, always available for encouragement or ideas. It makes creating art really fun. I also like the determined nature of the persistent camp. It challenges me to push past the limitations I can put on myself, to get up and DO when I’d rather laze about and not do, and to work as hard as I can for the sake of the art.
But instead of having these two halves fighting inside my head, I like making them work together. I like to challenge my flighty muse with persistence by analyzing what’s “blocking” me from working. Oftentimes, I find that I have a need that I’ve been ignoring – proper nutrition, time with friends, or space to absorb inspiration from others’ work. It’s all well and good to work hard and to push myself, but if I neglect my own well-being, I find myself less productive, not more. I get tired, cranky, listless – all things that I could chalk up to a block in my creative flow. Challenging the idea of the muse camp allows me to become more aware of myself and my needs so that I can once again find my creativity and motivation and not fall into poor health.
But, there are also days where nothing comes out of my mind. On those days, I need to challenge the persistent camp and acknowledge that not every day will be a super productive work day. I think about my muse and the things that inspire me to create, and I seek them out. I read my favorite books and comics, I watch Miyazaki movies (Kiki’s Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart, to be specific), I watch YouTube videos of my favorite authors giving talks or interviews, and then I journal. I let my thoughts pour out onto the page, whether it’s writing or drawing, and I allow myself to indulge in the whimsy and the abstract of the muse camp. This process usually re-energizes me and does inspire me to move forward. Seeing these amazing works makes me want to make amazing things too, and I’m able to get back to the drawing board or the keyboard to work. I may not have found the exact inspiration for the project I’m working on, but the inspiration for my overall goals as a writer and an artist are renewed, and that’s what’s important to me.
Whether you’re in the muse camp or the persistent camp, I hope we can all get along. It’s good to find what works for you personally, and I don’t think there’s much value in trying to “win” others to your side or to be salty at each other for resonating with differing ideas. It’s better to use that energy to create what you love. Get crackin’! You’ve got work to do.
Speaking of which, I have some podcast episodes to write. Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!