What is Artist Block? (Part of a longer series…)

What is artists’ block? What is a creative block? What constitutes any kind of psychological block in which the individual consciously wants to and intends to do something but cannot seem to do it, as though you were going to write a letter on a piece of paper but somehow could not do it? What’s the difference between procrastination and blocks and is there a crossover between them? Are creative blocks similar in some way to dips in people’s sexual drive or libido?

The strange thing about blocks is that sometimes the way to overcome them is the one that seems most logical and usually drives the blocked person crazy: just do the “project” or whatever it is, “anyway”. Sit down and start, do five minutes a day, break it into smaller parts, have lower expectations, allow yourself to work on it 20 minutes and take an hour break to watch a tv show.

A block is sort of what a physical block would look like, not the kind of sidewalk block, but a block of concrete or other material. Most people see it as a kind of wall that is right in front of them and they can’t seem to come up with interesting ways to try to go over the wall, or to accept the wall’s existence and actually just become interested in the wall and what it really looks and feels like.

Both ways are pretty concrete solutions to getting over a “block”. Either just “forcing” yourself to do it anyway or allowing yourself to not do it and investigate your block and see it as a friend, kind of like the Rumi poem, “Guest house”.

The reason I mention sex drive and libido is that creative energy and sexual energy seem to have somthing in common, I’m not sure how to verbalize it. And blocked people come up with the same excuses for avoiding sex and avoiding a “project”. “I’m too tired. I work too hard. I have no energy left to deal with this. I have too much to do.” “I won’t be able to concentrate as I am thinking to much about this or that stressor etc. Imagine if you were going to eat dinner and someone came round and said, you can’t eat until you get this and this done. While some people actually do that to themselves, most of us give in to eating for survival even if it involves eating delivery food from a styrofoam bowl in front of the computer screen.
When you look at it from a different angle, people who have a lot of sex with their partners are not necessarily horny all the time and people who are prolific creatively are not in the grips of some kind of divine inspiration and focus every morning.

So part of being blocked is somehow compartmentalizing a part of yourself and then neglecting it and the more you neglect it, the more you can say, “It’s not really me.” even if you think, “One day I will wake up and write this book and it will just flow out of me…
To be continued…

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