What is this blank screen staring back at me?
Telling me I’m worthless. Telling me I’m a fraud. An imposter. Telling me that I wasted my time buying all this music production gear.
Nice cool microphone? Check.
Guitars. Check. Both acoustic and electric? Check.
Digital drums so my son can play on any recording? Check.
PC with two monitors so it looks “kinda pro”? Check.
Cool software with an abundance of production tools and sounds? Check.
Nice cool little room with a big map of the world? Check.
Mood lighting in said room? Check.
I began to sweat.
Why was I not able to think up a melody? Or a lyric? Anything?
Frustrated, I took out my wet wipes and started wiping down the keyboards.
I then made sure the computer keyboards, mixer and knick-knacks on the desk are neatly aligned. I adjusted the speakers just so so that both are perfectly balanced.
I sat back down.
I stood up.
I paced back and forth.
Then I sat down again.
And then………something happened!
Ah yes, a nice little melody idea just popped in my head complete with some cool drum pattern. Ok! Let’s get to work!
I fiddled around with the software. Oh, so many drum loops to choose from! And look! This virtual guitarist sounds so real! Oh! What cool sounding strings!
And……And…….oh……..I forgot the melody.
What was it again?
I stood up, frustrated. Ready to throw my gear into the abyss of musical mediocrity, filled with cliché tunes and bland arrangements. (No, this was not the abyss of Modern Talking. That would be much much much worse.)
All these sounding familiar?
To those who dabble in creative works, whether writing a novel, or a script, or a song, or painting, you most probably have been through this.
Most people refer to it as “writer’s block” – where you aren’t able to create anything. No words on paper. No colour on canvas. No melody in the head.
It’s very frustrating. It can bring a person down to his knees, begging for divine intervention.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years, creating stuff and also helping others to create stuff, and also looking on as others create stuff in front of my very own eyes.
There’s actually no such thing as writer’s block.
Well, there is. And there isn’t.
The creative mind usually have multiple taps of experiences and information downloading into it that aren’t able to be turned off. It just keeps filling your mind. Creative ones would know what I mean. You wake up in the middle of the night, frantically looking for your phone to record a melody that just popped into your head. You suddenly swerve your car to the roadside to write down that story idea that suddenly formed itself in your mind.
Some don’t believe this. “No, Izham. What is this open tap business? I can go for days without things coming into my head. And I consider myself a very creative person.”
Well, dude, your tap IS always open and running. The most usual reason why you just haven’t noticed the things flowing into your mind is because you’ve been busy. You’ve been busy going to meetings, busy trying to buy groceries, busy sending your kids to school, busy attending classes, busy rushing through traffic. You’ve been busy going through life.
Our mind, wonderful and magical as it is when it comes to inspiration and ideas, also has a hole that these inspiration and ideas leak out from.
That’s how I see ideas work.
They form in your brain, fed by the open mind taps. And if you don’t pay attention, they leak out. Gone. Forever.
Until the next idea forms in your brain, fed by the unrelenting open tap.
But this is not the point I’m trying to make.
Ideas form in your brain, fed by the open mind taps. And if you don’t pay attention, they leak out
Let’s say we are all aware that our mind taps are constantly flowing. We are not distracted with errands and work and we are fully aware our brains are constantly flooded with information and experience.
Everybody knows that inspiration and ideas come from the connection of different and seemingly disparate bits of information and experiences in new innovative ways. With the sludge of stuff flowing into our head, we piece together this and that and those in unique and different ways and suddenly boom! we have a great new idea.
Even so, with full attention to the constant flow into their minds, there are those who still claim they have writers’ block. Even when they are ready. Hand on paintbrush. Fingers on keyboard. Pen on paper. But still no inspiration.
This, to me, is not writer’s block.
This is a creative person who wants a totally new idea. Who wants to innovate. Do something new. Something different.
And THAT is the one that takes a bit of time. Sometimes long enough to be labelled “writer’s block”.
With all the things flowing into our brains, it’s easy to come up with the same old ideas. Same melodies. Same movie tropes. Same painting style. Because they are already swirling in your brain.
The easiest thing to do always is to rehash experiences and information that you already know
Your mindtaps are constantly showing you experiences and information. And the easiest thing to do, if you have a creative deadline, is to just rehash the experiences and information that you already know (This could even lead to plagiarism and copying).
But if you are trying to do something new, you won’t stop at just rehashing every mundane and tried idea. You need to sieve through ALL these tried and tested mundane ideas flowing in your mind and then, like I mentioned above, piece together this and that and those in unique and different ways and suddenly boom! you have a great new idea.
You don’t have a block. You are just going through the sludge of the mundane.
For those who claim they never have writer’s block, this is usually because they are not doing anything new. Just rehashing stuff.
For those who say they have writer’s block and are still seeking inspiration, don’t worry. Keep on going. The sludge is thick. But you will find your inspiration. I am sure of it.
And when you do, it will be incredible.
In the meantime, I am going to blast Modern Talking on my speakers. It just might make me sludge through my mundane thoughts faster.