Creative Funk and Blockages

Writer’s block means that you are either processing something, have yet to experience something necessary to your development, or simply have too much to worry about. It is not something that you should ever put yourself in the position of fearing. As someone who has many creative strands to my work, I usually deal with it by using one of the others, whether that is making cartoons, games, artwork or helping other people work through their stuff.

Chatting to a friend earlier this evening, we were discussing why he does not seem to want to promote his acclaimed work. It turns out that bad experiences from his past prevent him, on the grounds that he is somehow jinxed. This, coupled with having had successful projects hijacked, has led to a creative block that has been extremely frustrating for me as the viewer, and extremely limiting for him. Despite this, he has managed several small projects, but is suffocated by what I can only describe as a sense of despondence and fear of success.

In this case, it is film-maker’s and graphic novelist’s block, rather than writer’s block. He, in common with another film-maker I have had dealings with, limits himself by not effectively working around the blockage. This is an intermittent, rather than a constant, problem, and in the meantime I take the rather selfish approach of involving him in my stuff (he does all the photography for the store, and is creating the covers for this year’s crop of books.) I feel quite bad about this, however, as his time would be better spent generating more of his own work and starting new strands, in a holistic development. You often find, on your downtime from one area that you work in, that you unexpectedly grow in a new direction.

I have many authors on my friend’s lists, and barely a day goes by that someone does not complain of being blocked, or that they feel guilty that they have not written that day. In comparison, I frequently do not write for months at a time, and feel nothing at all about it. As I have previously mentioned, Agatha Christie said that she knew she was a professional writer because she wrote things she did not like, at times she did not want to write. I have no plans to be in this position. Deadlines are helpful, but you do not become better by hammering out pulp. I am lucky enough to be feeling quite vital at the moment, but should this change, I have a game to construct and some artwork to do.

It often does not look as if you are doing anything at all, when your work is creative, and then you look back on your day and you have written a press release, researched another couple of textures, absorbed some patterns and shapes, tidied your workspace, sorted some materials for another day. If you look on your writer’s block in a similar way, your brain does need time to store information, process it, and proceed to output mode. You can try scribbling tasklists and notes to yourself in the meantime, to try to speed up this process, but it will happen by itself eventually. Mindmapping was a useful technique I used at university, and it certainly helps a lot with business plans and presentations. Plotting the thought bubbles sometimes makes things a lot clearer.

Negative events often cause you to remain in this state of blockage or funk for several years, when you could just break it down into neat chunks. I was very aware throughout this particular creative period, of what was going on, because I had seen it all before. Years ago, I might have bothered to meet Wolfe, on the assumption that there was some magical source of the waterfall of emotion, but even two years of personal misery did not deter me from the creative outcome, thankfully.

Be aware, as a creative person, that the bad things that happen to you are probably even more useful to you than the nice things. Relentless positivity is for insecure, easily threatened people that are unwilling to develop in a realistic way. The bad years, you will find, provide a more stable footing for your growth in the good ones, if you teach yourself to look on it the right way. My friend can now make well regarded film with minimal money, due to the horrific things that have happened to him. If I can just get him past this unwillingness to shout about it – there is no reason why he cannot expand on this if he wants to. It has taken probably the whole fifteen years I have known him for me to understand why he strangles himself with the hostile form of self-doubt that prevents us finishing certain projects. Which brings me to my final point – unfinished projects should not be binned – it is possible that your brain awaits a future event to teach you what you need to know. Growth is not always a smooth process, but it gets a lot smoother when you learn to protect yourself from shock, and that no material is bad material when you are a creative flower.

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A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

One thing since my family disaster in the form of both parents getting dementia has been the death of the personal deadline. I should be concerned about this, since I have traditionally been fond of work deadlines as a method of avoiding the rest of my life.

I am going to fly in the face of any motivator and tell you the truth – deadlines are no good for quality. I have got much further since I abandoned the deadline. I do things when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it and the rest of my time is pretty much eaten up by 24/7 responsibility for my mother and her property.

The fact that I am trapped in the house by her illness and the lack of support has meant that I have no distractions in the form of looking after or enjoying myself, and so I feel I can afford the luxury of time. Some of the first batch were being thought about for over a year before they were actually completed, and I can honestly say this has made my work better.

The work went into the 3rd dimension only after a personal crisis brought about by an event outlined vaguely in Best Scandal Ever. Finding out that I cannot expect even the smallest amount of respect from a desk jockey agent when trying to help somebody basically caused me to decide that nothing mattered, and the removal of time and the restraint of ambition has meant I have all the time in the world to perfect this one thing that I can confidently say is unique to me.

So much for your standard motivational garbage then. A disaster of rejection has led to me finally doing what I probably should have done in the first place – ignore everyone and do whatever I feel, whenever I feel like doing it.

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Learning from idiots

The recent use of idiocy in the USA to keep Donald Trump in the media, and overspill back in Scotland, is not the only thing which has caused me to ponder the value of being an idiot.  Given that in terms of my emotional attachment to Wolfe, I too am a kind of professional idiot, I am now pondering the value of idiocy.

Trump has taken some minor financial hits in the last couple of days, Oman and Scotland have reported third party business losses as a result of his shameless self promotion and moronic self-regard.  I wonder if he calculates this on a profit/loss basis?  For a person hailed as a business expert, if he has not done this, then perhaps he makes his living shooting his mouth off and having other people use the convenient pun of his name for their own purposes. It would make more sense if people were looking at each other across the boardroom table, rolling their eyes and signing away fortunes on the basis of having the word Trump on the side of a building.

The spectacular headline that Trump would have made more money doing nothing, makes me think that running your mouth is an outstandingly popular activity in the idiocracy that is the USA. Certainly the examples we are shown here in the UK indicate that the American rich are similar to the lower middle classes, in terms of the glorification of self interest and lack of perceived duty and humility, something which I have always felt made us much stronger as a nation in the UK.

Recently, of course, we in the UK have taken to inviting foreign money to bolster the luxury market and conceal the fact that economically speaking, our government does not even remember the simple economic principles of Maggie Thatcher.  Yes, she dictated that it was a good idea to kill off unsustainable nationalised industry, but nobody in the current government seems to have put this together with encouraging small to medium sized business, proportionately enormous employers, with enhancements to investibility and encouragement of the general population to risk everything replanting the economic garden by starting small businesses.

Perhaps we should have a Chancellor that can count, with a memory of thirty years ago so that he does not miss this crucial detail.  Instead he is starving the poor in order to fund crappy and equally corrupt Labour PFI policy damage and fund his cronies in the defence industry, whilst everyone apparently sits at home and wonders why their respective riots are not reported on the media.  We in Scotland are well aware that the media is suppressing information from little England.  For the benefit of the terminally stupid Conservative voters, sitting in their ‘Alright Union Jack’ properties – try looking up DEMONSTRATION SUPPRESSED BY THE MEDIA and you will find a list of unreported action by students, anti-war protesters, people protesting the starvation of the disabled.  We are being treated just as badly as the Americans in terms of the assumption that we are all too stupid to care that we are led by people too knuckle-draggingly dumb to be allowed out of the cocaine room at the private members club.

At this point in my life I am of the opinion that we should take this as a sign that no matter our history or our previous lack of confidence and motivation, we should take matters into our own hands.  We need to find ways around the problem in terms of making use of things like crowdfunding, social capital and our own good ideas to regrow our own gardens.  If you have harboured even the shred of a dream, have a look at how to make it work on a basis that the silly boys in Westminster cannot interfere with.

Likewise, my inability to make love work for me, no matter how much work I pour into expressing myself, should tell me that love is just not for me.  I should give up on drilling my way through a shell of self protective superficiality and forget that Wolfe is actually a perfectly functioning and rather frightened person wrapped up in a blanket of bullshit.  I should move on to someone that presents a facade of emotional competence, and wait for the inevitable conclusion that nobody knows what they are doing and it is all futile.  I should not waste my time recovering from bad experiences, instead being aware that life is short, and since there is no actual truth, I might as well role play my way through the traditional markers of age and time.  I should not make any effort to communicate.  I should make distinctions between global politics and the vagaries of my own emotion.  I certainly should not mix the topics, in case I confuse people determined to sleep their way through life and put full stops on it where none exist.

Perhaps what we should learn from idiocy, is that all progress is futile, because sooner or later, someone who prioritised money or power over knowledge decided that we just don’t matter.  Nothing matters at all in fact, apart from making sure that we get more jelly beans from life than the idiot next to us.

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