The hardest part about being stuck in a rut, is getting yourself out of it.
Maybe you’re feeling derailed in your life or your job. Can’t get up the inspiration to cook. Perhaps you don’t quite have it in you to exercise like you used to. Maybe you find yourself staring at the computer screen, unable to create your next post/essay/letter to a friend/chapter of your book/poem/article/creative masterpiece.
There are times when I feel like I can do anything and everything. But sometimes, I feel truly stuck. I walk around the apartment aimlessly, eating granola and yogurt out of the container. I try to find my way back to the computer to write something and wish for motivation to come and overtake me.
But nothing happens.
‘Cause when stuck-ness comes and stakes a claim, there just seems to be nothing I can do to over come it.
Then I remember. There is a solution.
The best way for me to get out of the stuck-ness is to do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I’m feeling. I have to practice contrary action.
If I feel unmotivated to write, I have to write for one hour.
If I don’t want to cook, I cook something.
If I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror because I feel uncomfortable in my skin, I go for a walk or a hike in a canyon.
If I feel lonely and don’t understand why no one is calling me, I pick up the phone.
If I feel anti-social, I go out and do something with friends. Continue reading “Into Action”
Ray Bradbury, a man of science, imagination, and other worldly creativity, departed this dimension on June 6th, 2012. Little more than a week since his death, many have written words of thanks and appreciation to applaud Bradbury for the limitlessness of his imagination and the power of his words.
Ray Bradbury was a teacher on the page as well as a mentor in life. Threading back through my memories, I can pin point a priceless interaction I had with the writer while I was attending film school. The year was 1999 and I was a hungry screenwriting student at a small Los Angeles film school. My screenwriting mentor introduced me to Mr. Bradbury at an on-campus event. I recall focusing on Bradbury’s hair–it was thick like a horse’s and colorless white–as he offered me surprisingly kind words of encouragement on the writing process. I was overwhelmed to be in the presence of such a famous writer, but his words gave me courage.
The brief encounter and his book “Zen in the Art of Writing” gave me the bravery to ask the man if I could take a stab at writing an adaptation of one of his short stories for a video assignment for my school. So blinded by optimism and hope, I didn’t even attempt any kind of promise of financial enticement. But then how could I? I was without any income and was living off a school loan that barely covered my rent, let alone a meager food allowance. I looked past my own lack of experience, crossed my fingers, and took the huge leap of faith.
Miraculously, Bradbury agreed to read my pages and think over my request. I wrote a draft. The director sent the pages along with the obligatory contract my film school required for usage of any original work.
In the interim, I chewed my nail-beds clean. I paced. I may have even drank a bottle of cheap wine to take the edge off.
Soon after, Mr. Bradbury’s responded. Continue reading “Thank you, Ray Bradbury”
My friend Michael Procopio–a San Francisco based gentleman blogger who fights for the honor of words and glorifies the well-timed delivery of a witty retort–wrote a moving essay on the topic of writer’s block this past week. Michael’s post described how his writing had come to a halt once a desire to create something perfect had settled in. Writer’s block–the kind that demands nothing less than greatness– can not be relieved without the delivery of an impossible ransom. The desire for praise or success only elevates the price. Michael’s essay bared the hard truth; a desire to create something perfect can kill the ability to create.
Oh, man. Who hasn’t felt that way? Who hasn’t longed for a pat on the back? Who hasn’t worked hard on a creative project, only to feel a heightened sense of obligation for the next deed to be even greater than the last? Who hasn’t heard those dark whispers that say the work you’re done is no good. Or worse, that nobody out there really cares?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frozen by the idea that the last thing I was proud of may be the last good thing I write. And then, just when I’ve talked my self out of the corner, the voice of self-doubt returns to trump the whole thing with the hateful notion that the last thing I put down on paper wasn’t all that great after all. Why bother, it tells me.
Boy, we creative types really can be rotten to ourselves.
Luckily, I’m in something of a good place today, so I can muster something close to a snicker to the dark thoughts that come in and tell me I might as well stop writing. Where do these thoughts come from? Who allows such mean talk to go on in this head of mine? Thanks to Michael’s essay, I’m happy to know I’m not the only writer who has suffered through a block.
Continue reading “Ignore Everybody”