6.25.2018

Artists block: don't be afraid

Hello shag!
Today I want to share with you a couple of thoughts on artists block.
Anyone dealing with creative job, either for passion or profession, will probably have to deal with this unpleasant feeling known as artists block.
As a creative person myself I sometimes experience that too (luckily, I don't live off writing or drawing, otherwise I would already be poor), and I'd like to share my experience on it: how it feels to me, when does it happen and what do I do to cope with it.
Eache person is different, so please take my words for what they are, since I am not actually effective in coping with it.


What is an artist's block? 
Artists block can be defined as variable timespan in which an artists lacks inspiration and motivation, this will result in an inability of the person to create anything (adapted from urban dictionary defintion).
This applies to art in all of his forms, from writing, to crafting, from music to drawing.
Versatile creative people, such as those who both write and craft, might face selective artists block, meaning that there will be times in which they are comfortable in doing both and other in which they can deal with just one.

When the artist's block is selective and takes just one form, the guilt feeling is usually lighter, but if the block strikes both, frustration might rise up to unbeliavable levels.

Symphtoms

The artist block can manifest in different forms, and the affected person might manifest one or all of the following symphtoms that will last differently:

1) Unsatisfaction with current work

This happens when the person is actually still productive, but it doesn't mater how many corrections it makes to the curent manuscript or how many times it tries to do a painting all over, the result at its eyes will never be satisfied, doesn't matter how good it looks to others.

here it comes the compulsive will to throw anything in the trash bin, to scrap everything done so far and to feel guilt for it.

2)Total inability of producing anything

This sympthom is even worse than the previous one: the person stares at the blank support inf front of it for times which seem eternal and can't materially move a single muscle.  Ideas might come on fast, but they will be gone before the artist realizes it.


This is one of the worst feeling on earth, especially if the person is used to produce almost regularly, it feels like being suddenly unable to speak.

3)Inspirational apathy

Inspiration is a spontaneous event for creative people: a song, a situation even a chat can ignite a thinking mechanism which will lead to the creation process.
When experiencing an artist's block, however, anything surroundign the affected person feels blank, plane, meaningless.
This status could lead the person to either compulsively look for inspiration or to tuck itself inside, materially refusing any kind of outside stimuli. 
In both cases, the apathy feeling will just grow either for tiredness of compulsive searching or for preventing outside stimuli to strike in, fearing they would be useless. 

4)Procrastination

This isn't necessary a symphtom connected to artist's block, some people can procrastinate still be creative. However, when an artist who is usually committed to its cause and produces regularly starts to to delay deadlines or skip its daily creative sessions despite having time, it can be a sign of an artist block happening. 

Procrastination can be considered as natural in tasks a person is forced to do but doesn't want to (i.e. homework or housework) b when it concerns activities that normally lead to enjoyment, this feeling leads to anger and sadness. 
In this case, the person will find himself cleaning all day or doing stuff like re-ordering folder on its personal computer for hours insted of creating, as trying to build up an excuse for not doing what they'd want to do. 

5) Will of giving up

This is often the last step and is most likely a result of the three previous stages. After a while of trying, the person will have that feeling ariring to give it all up and screw the previous work they did. 
This could be problematic esspecially for professional artists.

While for an amateur, like I am, it woud bring to nothing more than piled up frustration, a professional musician will loose income. 

How to relieve  block related stress

As specified above, I don't have the absolute answer on how to cope with the artist's block, since I don't properly know it myself. However, there are some simple suggestions that will at least make you feel slightly better if such an event occurs. 

1)Take a break for some time

Especially amateur artists who don't feel deadlines pressure, it would be a good idea to have a break every now and then. 
Put all your instruments aside and do alternative stuff, go for a swimming, make a trip...whatever it works to keep your mind away from your creative block for some days. 
Disconnect to all your social media in which you share your creation if you have, since the pressure for publishing something new with regular cadencies and likes/comment obession could be getting it worse. 

I want to open a small question on the social media subject here. I started ctreating when online publishing was still rudimental and didn't have the same promotional power it has nowadays. 
Just think that up to a decade ago, I would write just for myself and will share whatever I did with nobody except from certain people. 
Opening up to a whole external world made me feel a bit anxious but once I started and people started to give me feedback and kudos, I became rather dependent from it, even though I made no money from it. However, during times in which people are not as reactive as before, I take the action as a personal statement of not liking my works and this will make me question my choices. Keep in mind that people on social media are not reliable and sometimes, their reaction is unbonded from the quality of your works. I will probably do a dedicated post on this later on. 

2) Do simple tasks

Artist's block does not have a standard duration: it can last from few weeks to several years and it's impossible to predict it. During the break it is nice to excercise the art the person has been working for without the pressure of creating something new, original. 

For a novels writer it could be writing stuff on actuality topics they relate to, for a music composer could be to play along and learn some songs from their favorite band. It is all about practicing and don't force oneself to do it. Even little, like few minutes can be important. 

3)Explore

As mentioned above, focusing too intensely on a single topic will probably lead to a burnout. Try to experiment other art forms, maybe something you've being doing every now and then. 
If you are a crafter, try with writing or playing an instrument. 

Spacing out of creative works could be helpful too, do some sport or study a topic that interest you, maybe inspiration will fly back at you.  

Either if these suggestions work or not, don't let yourself overcome with guilty feelings. Artists' block is something truly common and everyone overcome it sooner or later, sometimes all you need is to be patient. 

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