Thursday, August 31, 2017

Writer's Block

Hmmm... what to write... what to write? From time to time, those who call themselves writers, composers, songwriters or poets experience that null... that vacuous state of blank-mindedness during which we struggle to finish something, or just to write anything at all. It can be attributed to stress, fear of committing words (or music) to paper, burnout, or to any number of causes. Since this is a universal problem, and since I value too highly the inspiration others confer upon me, I am happy to offer a few suggestions for handling such times.

At the risk of portraying meditation as a panacea for just about every ailment known to man (it's not!) I do highly recommend this method for bringing one's mind back into focus. I know that I sing with greater concentration and refinement immediately after I meditate. I write with less distraction after I meditate. I even cook better, clean the house with greater efficiency-- I may even drive more patiently. Ok, it is a panacea. Just don't overdo it.

Simply disciplining oneself to sit down, open up the laptop and make time to do the writing on a consistent, predictable basis can be enough to facilitate results. Often I find myself lamenting that I haven't composed a new song lately, only to remember that I have not set aside time to do it! It cannot get done if it is not a priority, so writers, give yourself permission to sit quietly and let your muse work. This will likely involve shutting off other distractions like television, your phone, social media, etc. Unplug from technology and watch your creativity come to life. We choose what we spend our minutes and hours doing, so choose wisely.

One rewarding solution to this issue is to go and get inspired! Attend an opera, read a classic novel, listen to some great music you have not dived into before. Newness is the key--let someone else's talents and artistic contributions feed your own. I once read that artists ought to be well-rounded and open to experiencing beauty in all its forms. Cultivating genuine fascination for nature, science, history, architecture, dance, and visual arts can only enhance one's musical and/or writing talents. For example, one mentor of mine stated that singers can learn a great deal about singing by watching world-class ice skating! How true that is... the grace, flowing lines, muscular control, performance joy, smoothness and awe-inspiring beauty that Olympic-level skaters display always inspire me toward greater artistic heights. It's okay that I will never skate in the Olympics--but I can learn so much about how to better execute my own musical goals by studying the disciplined, confident, capable ice skater's seemingly flawless performance. Learning to absorb beauty and to channel it toward one's own talent and aspirations are skills worth cultivating. Good luck and happy writing!