Often we find ourselves stuck in a creative rut, where words become stale and the very idea of writing, or typing, words onto a page sends a shiver of loathing down your spine. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside because for you it’s a cloudy day. We’ve all been there. If you haven’t, you’re a liar.
I must admit, the title may be a little misleading given the complicated seriousness of the topic at hand. Go ahead, call it clickbait or whatever, I won’t be offended. The stakes are too high now, and if you’re too busy scrutinizing the blog you’re probably not writing enough anyway. The title got you this far, now deal with the rest of it. Res ipsa loquitur.
This will not be a list of exercises like those hundreds of other blogs pump desperate readers full of; it will be chronicling and vague, covering the guise of what most, if not all, worthwhile writers know and have experienced. It will be short, and you may not like the message that follows.
- Struggle. It’s the most important nuance and unfortunate reality of being a writer. Each writer’s struggle is different. Struggle has the potential to blossom into great work, but can also form/morph into a different type of struggle. Being a writer and fulfilling that promise will never be peaches and cream. Whether it’s inner or outer struggles, with war or marriage, animal rights or human rights, struggle is the ability to feel deeply about a specific thing. That’s ultimately what writers are paid to do, feel and make us, the reader, feel. Struggle may seem gloomy, but feeds into the next portion of what it takes to seriously write.
- Tap into a mindset of pure restlessness. Outdo yourself. Complacency is for failed seekers. When you’re suddenly writing at a level you’re content with, that’s when your art will begin to suffer. When I’m not writing I’m thinking or wishing I am writing. Unless the writer is reading, she or he should be itching to step back to the page and create.
- Write for yourself, not for fame. The notion that “I’m writing this because I think I’ll be famous for it” rarely works out. If this has burst your bubble, don’t be discouraged. And if you are discouraged, odds are you don’t truly want to be a writer anyway. “I’m writing this because I just want to” is a much better mindset. Jack Kerouac once said “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” If this is not your purpose for writing, consider examining the reasons you want to write. You may surprise yourself.
- Be bored. Netflix and other streaming services have stripped away the necessary component all writers need: boredom. Distractions abound in contemprary life and there’s a lot of noise out in the world. It seems odd that in 2015 we have the choice to be bored, rather than boredom being an accepted reality. Part of James Dean’s appeal is that he constantly looks bored and longing for something. Would that same face look the same with a backlit screen flooding his pores?
Boredom has gone from something that can be used for constructive creation, to, unfortunately, being reappropriated as a chance for consumption. Gary Busey appeared in a commercial for a major corporate entity. In one hand he held a seashell, and in the other he held a USB drive hardwired for every major entertainment application. “In one of my hands is something from Amazon that’s so powerful it could entertain humanity for an eternity.” He’s relieved when he opens the hand with the USB stick. “You can’t play movies on a seashell,” he said. No, but please take me to the beach the shell came from.
Despite all the harsh realities of being a writer, it’s most important, as a budding or seasoned writer, that we read.
You may be asking yourself now “What’s the point of writing if all I’m going to do is be anxious and bored and fidgety all the time and never satisfied?” Easy: because if you don’t then who will?
I will close with a powerful quote from Don DeLillo. “Writers must oppose systems. It’s important to write against power, corporations, the state, and the whole system of consumption and of debilitating entertainments… I think writers, by nature, must oppose things, oppose whatever power tries to impose on us.”