For the past 4 years, and particularly the past 2.5 years, I struggled with writer’s block. For all this time, I’ve been unable to create a single thing. I’ve been plagued with self-doubt and criticism, telling myself that my stuff isn’t good enough, that my stories and thoughts don’t matter, and nobody will listen to me when I have something interesting to say. I allowed people to cut me down creatively and I listened to people who laughed at my ideas. After such a long period of silence and repression, I thought my creativity was dead.
It wasn’t. And yours isn’t either. You are just burying it.
Over the past few months, a strange concoction of events has spawned a creative charge inside my head: Discoveries, creations and ideas that blow me away when I look back at them later and process the fact that they came from my own brain. I can’t go into the events here as this is a public blog post, but the important thing to remember is one simple thing that I have realized, remembered over the past few weeks. And that critical thing is:
Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Ignore the people who do not.
Because when you are a creative, you must create or you will die. You may not cease to exist, but your soul will be stepped on, you will be constricted and you will feel this in every area of life.
When I say ignore people who do not, I mean ignore them completely. Give them no area of your brain. They are not creative, they do not understand your process, and they have never had one original thought in their lives. They cannot process anything new and you cannot change them. They will forever fail to experience life in a full way.
Just throw them into the trash of your brain and blow right past them. Keep going down that spiral. It’s there for a reason – you see things that other people don’t, and there’s something that you were meant to do. Chase it.
It doesn’t matter if nobody is listening. The real expansion comes when we create just for the sake of creating, just because that thing needs a channel to bring itself into the world. Because the truth is, if you do not open yourself as a channel for that thing, someone else will.
Right now, go:
- Find a musician who you believe to be a genius and whose music puts you into a trance (mine is Maynard James Keenan of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer, and here’s an example of his work). Read about the person’s life, immerse yourself in that music and the headspace of that person. Read the lyrics of their songs and think about why the person might have written them. Listen to the music between the beats.
- Read something by someone who you believe brilliant (mine is David Foster Wallace, and right now, this is my favorite piece of his).
- Call someone who inspires you, who has a crazy passion that drives them. If you’ve been in a slump, you probably haven’t called them for awhile. Ask them to coffee or a drink and get them talking about whatever inspires them. Their inspiration will feed that thing inside of you that cries out to make things that matter. And you will realize that they do matter.
When you finally believe that – really believe that – you will be unstoppable.