I’ve (so far) never experienced artist’s block, writer’s block, or any other type of block, even while slogging through depression. I think it’s because I don’t stop working just because I run out of inspiration. Inspiration can be found. Ideas can be found. Work goes on. Inspiration can be lost. Ideas can be lost. Work goes on.
On and off, for all my life (so far) I’ve had periods of dark vision. I don’t consider this a blessing or a curse. It’s just how my brain works and my brain works this way because my chromosomes got lined up just so by chance or by hook or crook of fate.
I’ll go with chance, for now, but I begin to suspect some sort of pattern----which isn’t to say design. But nearly so. Anyway, yes, some of the sculptures I’ve done have come in flashes of…insanity.
That said, it’s not always like that. Every piece of work I make doesn’t come with a fanfare of angelic trumpets. Some of them sort of discover themselves as they’re being made. The only way I could block myself is to stop working. Sometimes illness or circumstances stop it for me.
Sometimes, when that happens, it’s not a good thing. Too much stuff gathers in my head.
So, generally, I keep working.
I don’t always feel inspired.
I work anyway. If I don’t have a specific idea that is setting me on fire, I just decide to make something ‘nice’. It can be a figurative thing---like a simple nude figure, or a design thing---like a shape or a movement.
Or it can be an essay on a subject plucked from the collection of post-its and slivers of paper taped or magneted or otherwise stuck all over the studio refrigerator.
It’s a good idea to keep plenty of post-its and pens and slivers of paper handy for inspired moments. A blank refrigerator can be handy too. You can refer back to it in tough times and keep stuff cold in it too.
When I feel most uninspired, I drag my sorry ass to the studio, or to the computer and I start working and, without fail, I get into it and a twist or play on words or metaphor emerges and grows into an idea. Music helps. And coffee. ( Yes, caffeine is a drug. If something works, use it. Just know that everything has a price and other people besides you matter.)
Use the force, Luke. Ok. That's corny. But, really, sometimes you just have to let go and let give.
Once in a while you have to stop driving and just see what happens. Not by standing there and staring at the blank page, but by typing something, drawing some lines or punching at a lump of clay.
A lot of writers and artists believe that we can train our brains to be ‘on’ by working at the same time every day. That makes sense. Why not? Everything else we learn works that way. But I believe that the act of working, whether it’s twisting some wire for armature or typing simply what we’re feeling at the moment, stimulates the creative process, no matter what time, and that exercising creativity makes it stronger.
At the very worst, by kneading some clay or sketching, we’re doing something productive instead of something from the long list of things we could be doing (which includes chocolate and HBO and Ebay) that are great to celebrate with but not to be substituted for working. ( or we should be beaten like a bad-bad donkey)
Anyway. Here were a couple of thoughts on how things work. I’d be interested in hearing yours.
I’ve missed you guys. Hope you missed me too. I’m tired of cold tablets and tissue and my bathrobe. If you’ve had this crud too, hope you’re on the mend.