Writer’s block comes in many shapes and sizes:
1. Lack of routine:
You have gotten in the habit of not creating anything. You can’t go to the gym once every 6 months and expect to be in shape.
2. Your own unreliable feedback:
You write something and the voice in your head says, I’m the greatest writer in the world, no one is better than me! You re-read it and the voice has changed its tune: You fool, this is the worst crap, what’s wrong with you?
3. One-hit wonder:
This one is a weird one. You finish a project that you’re proud of; you share it and it’s received well. The aftermath is total joy. And you ride that joy for a long time. In all that time, you’re not creating anything new. You know, one-hit wonder style.
I’ve been through all of that and more. It’s painful. And it’s real. Most recently, I was reminded of what might be the worst kind, who am I kidding, all of them are the worst.
It was a hard lesson, but a great reminder that our work as writers and artists includes suffering and sacrifice for our art. Without those things, you cannot achieve greatness.
I call this form of writer’s block:
5. I hate everything I write and I’m a failure.
I am a Creator and Head Writer of a new Lebanese TV show and we are on heavy deadlines, so I don’t have the luxury of complaining when writer’s block hits me.
So I did what I always do, I wrote through it. It was agonizing. With each word, I hated myself more. I consoled myself with things like, not every episode is going to be good and then somewhere from the depths of my unconscious the same voice replied, bullshit, all episodes have to be great. The other writers on the show consoled me as well, it’s not as bad as you think, they said, we’ll make it better in rewrites.
This is where my years of training would come into play. Everything I teach (and I taught these writers) at fadeinbeirut, everything I am as a writer comes down to this: faith.
Faith involves letting go and trusting yourself, trusting your own creativity, and that can be so difficult, regardless of how long you’ve been writing. It’s faith that there is no such thing as perfection, there is only the best you can do. Faith that the creative process will help you arrive at the best result, but it’s just that, a process and cannot be judged on the first attempt. Faith that you are working from the heart and with a skill set that you have practiced, day in and day out. Faith that whatever you’re going through is just a phase, because it is.
I wondered why this happens and indeed, why it happened at this moment with this episode?
Technically speaking, the episode itself is challenging, as it comes at point in the season where we are in a see-saw balance of story arc. But more so, the answer to this question is always ‘fear’. There’s a lot of pressure to deliver greatness and when the going gets tough, the pressure mounts. That pressure comes from the Writer’s Room and no one else. In other words, that pressure comes from within. As long as you don’t let the fear take over, you’ll be fine. As long as you have some faith in creativity.
And that’s a lesson that I cannot teach, it simply has to be experienced by doing.
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert
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