Something’s wrong with me. For the past few weeks, I can’t seem to write anything; substantial or not. Stories form in my mind as a clear, still image, which means that the best I can get out of my head right now are single, mostly trivial, scenes.
Not good. To create a complete, compelling story, I need at least a vision of an important key-scene.
There’s another thing. What I do right now is worry too much about the end results; what readers or other writers might think when they saw my work. Completely ridiculous, of course, because by doing that I prevent myself from having any work to show in the first place.
Now I’ve experienced and understood what Stephen King says in his book on writing, “On Writing“—I know, I’ve cited this book too often, perhaps, but I truly believe that it’s the writers’ bible:
I think to any writer with a family, especially those with small children, it’s obvious that you should always write with the door closed—literally. Better yet, close your ears with a pair of comfortable noise-isolating headphones playing white noise, pink noise, ambience, or heavy metal—whatever you fancy. Otherwise, pretty soon your wife will call you because she needs something, or your child will yank at your pants because he wants a piggyback ride—or because he needs help with a puzzle he’s playing on his iPad.
Figuratively, however, King’s advice takes on a meaning much more fundamental to, and deeply-rooted in, ourselves. As human beings, I believe every one of us—consciously or subconsciously—craves for some form of acknowledgement, feedback, and support from others. We rely on it. We’re indifferent to it. We pretend not to care, while in fact, we are addicted to it. We love it. We hate it.
Some, I dare claim, write for the sake of it.
Indeed with blogs and social media, where anybody can get instant feedback from others, it has never been easier to get all the above. But more often than not, we “let them in” way too far, even into the earliest stages of our creative process.
This is where danger comes; the point where any writer, no matter how good they are, will restrain their own voice before anybody else does or try to. This is where a bodiless voice will come and haunt you, whispering criticisms that have yet to exist or may not even exist—in an ominous, envious, and often patronizing tone. This is where—as is happening to me—you will lose any enjoyment you used to have in what you know you can do best.
And it’s true of any art form, not just writing. I also love to draw, yet lately I’ve lost the, say, “innocent childlike pleasure” of doing it because I’m no longer motivated if what I’m drawing is not “fit for publication” on my blog or elsewhere.
I forgot who said the following, and to be honest, I have no time to look it up, so I’m going to write it in my own words. As usual, I’m not telling you because I know better, but instead I’m sharing my experience; maybe you can benefit from it. That and I haven’t posted anything in a while, so why not this?
The best artists among us create because they have to; because they have a strong and unique voice that can’t be contained. The best artwork emerges from a passionate heart, not from a desire to be popular.
In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than a writer who writes about vampires just because of the popularity of “Twilight,” or who writes erotica just because of “50 Shades of Yuck,” or who writes erotica set in ancient Rome just because of “Game of Thongs.”
We can’t please everybody anyway, so we might as well please ourselves. We could create something that we think will sell, that people will love, that will make us enough money to buy a diamond as big as the Ritz. But what if none of this happened? We would be left with a soulless piece of junk that’s not entirely our own.
So—mostly as a reminder to myself—create something with a genuine passion and love for what you do. Let your imagination roam free without any kind of pressure; commercial, social, political, or otherwise.
At the end of the day, no matter what happens, at least you still have your work.