Originally Published on 16.03.2020
I experience writer’s block a lot and frequently find myself met with the phrase ‘there is no such thing as writer’s block, only poor writers.’ Being completely incapable of hiding my emotions, I frown and furrow my brow. That sort of phrase is an easy way to degrade yourself and make yourself feel unworthy of your creativity. I truly believe that no one writes a finished masterpiece without significant creative struggle or reflection time. Writing, as a craft, is challenging because otherwise everyone and their dog would commit themselves to it.
“No one writes a finished masterpiece without significant creative struggle or reflection time.”
As of late, the UK and the rest of the world have been in a constant descent into madness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve worked from home as much as possible and because of that, dedicated more and more time to my writing. I’ve been working on a feature script for a while now, but I found, with each page I wrote, nothing felt right. The plot, characters, dialogue and the words themselves felt like they weren’t listening to me and perhaps I wasn’t listening to them either. Sitting down for the first time in front of my working draft with a new set of eyes after the anxiety and hysteria caused by the outbreak has given me a lot to think about, but it’s also given me a reason to want to forget about the outside world for a while.
The outside world can be overwhelming and overbearing if you look at it for too long with a watchful eye. Of course, it’s important to stay up to date morally with the goings-on of the planet, but we aren’t built to carry the world on our shoulders individually. Being able to look away from it and get to know your creative focus can truly be the key to unlocking your potential. I found that once I switched off my BBC News app, after months of claustrophobic, high pressure, and stifled screenwriting, the process became refreshingly artistic, relaxing, and even a little bit fun. The screenplay, after feeling that I was overbearing and not letting it breathe, was listening to me.
This lesson here, I suppose, is to put your mental health first. I’m not a believer in ‘paying your dues’ by experiencing terrible things first-hand. Trauma and Mental Health are not currency and you can’t buy your way into being a good artist. I, personally, find that my best writing comes when I’m relaxed, comfortable and happy. When I am feeling anxious or angry or sad because of my mental health/trauma, I go to a place where I’m completely unable to articulate thoughts and feelings and ultimately that is not conducive to good writing. Good writing is good communication.
If your computer is overheating, or perhaps even on fire, you wouldn’t carry on writing. You’d let it cool down and put out the fire. Treat your lovely noggin in the same way. Stay safe out there!