Creative Block / Writers Block – Inspiration at Guangzhou Airport
It’s funny sometimes when you sit in front of a blank page. The writers centuries ago would get the doldrums in front of a piece of canvas or rouch paper, their quill sitting in the inkwell, lonely. The writers decades ago would sit, or stand, in front of their typewriters, hands limp at their sides, or for those not quite apathetic yet, hovering over the keys, twitching from caffiene or alcohol or tobacco or starvation or sleep deprivation… however the outlet manifests, it’s all very similar.
I like to call it The Doldrums, because my mind feels kind of like I imagine sailors would have felt when they were stuck in the middle of a calm for weeks or months: near empty. It’s been happening to me for years.
So as I sit here at the airport, on my way home to LA, from Guangzhou, China, wondering what to do to pass the time when hours of listening to audiobooks or reading sci-fi paperbacks has overloaded my intake processor, I think “Why not just write about not being able to write?”
And so the words start to flow.
It’s always all so very mental. When you master your mind, you master your destiny. Cheesy or cliche as that may sound, every year that goes by I get a deeper understanding of how factual this fact really is.
The truth is that I have quite a bit to write about, actually. I have done some pretty interesting things over the past seven months; most recently the hail mary of sorts I am pulling starting off with this visit to China, and also before that, with my trip to Ecuador and the Amazon. I often think that I shouldn’t write unless I got something really truly juicy or interesting for other people, and unless I can write the stuff with good form, cleverness and style (all good things, though the raw truth is sometimes enough). But I realize you can’t let that block you. Step 1: Do. Step 2: Refine. Always, for anything.
The number one thing that has inspired me the most is my own mind. And what gets my mind going the most is using it. Not what I put in it, but using it. Your mind is just like any muscle. When exercised, it works. When you let it sit idle, it shrinks, with the occasional spasm or twitch as it atraphe’s into a energy-conserving hibernation-state.
The “what you put in it” part is part of step 2. That comes later. Whether you remember English class or not, whether you went to college or not, if you’ve ever read a book from the famous writers of the past, or even heard some of their quotes, you’ll notice a trend if you compare them: rarely are any of them original or profoundly life-changing by themselves. They gain their power through the significance that those who read attach to them.
I’ll give you an example: Let’s say at some point I become appreciated by enough people in the future that the thing I said above is quoted: “Step 1: Do. Step 2: Refine.” Nothing new there, that anyone can agree with. Maybe it will hold more force because of reputation of the author behind it, if I do something great in the future that people respect. BUT it is all dependant on the significance the reader attaches to it, whether that significance is born from their respect for the author or, as happens just as much or more, how the events of the persons life and the experiences they have had reflect on that quote/piece of data, and what that reader gleams from the data comparison.
Do. Refine. Repeat. Don’t worry about others. Grow from exercising your mental capacity.