How do I WANT to handle this? (Or clean your brushes)

Hey Artist,

Maybe you have come up against this situation:

You have your plan, you schedule your time, you are all set to do whatever it is you need to do today (Paint, market, budget, whatever) and you sit down and...


Nothing. You write one sentence in an hour. You study your lines and you can't focus on the page.


Now you can call this a lack of discipline, writer's block, or resistance but I don't think that it's actually a personal failing.


We spend so much time fighting to carve out our niche for art, but our resentful muse (Subconscious, whatever) seems to respond with "Oh now you have time for me? Not interested"


Now you can try to force it, but the better response, I think, is to recreate yourself.


No, that's not right. But the world is overly pressured right now. Things that used to put you ahead are now required just to tread water. Sometimes I take smart drugs to combat lack of sleep, not to "enhance" my cognitive abilities. So although I believe strongly in self image psychology, spending all of your time creating a new you may not be the best use of your time.


There is so much fighting that we have to do to claim being artists, that when it's time to make art; we are far too combative to be inspired.


So what do you do?


Here are a couple of things that I am trying:


  1. The writer's / actor's trick of using the frustration to fuel the art. Dustin Hoffman, famously said that his breakdown scene in Rain Man was fed by his fear of not being able to make the scene work. Write about your anger at writer's block.

  2. Try to live one day as the person that you would like to be. A bit more approachable than "What would (Famous deity) do; it's more "If I took the time to think, what would be my ideal response to this situation". Hopefully doing it for one day will make it easier.

  3. Accepting the fact that shit is hard. A fish is going to be affected by the water it swims in, and I don't care how much "Love and Light" you send; you are going to be impacted by things going on in the world. Once you acknowledge this fact,though; look around and see what you can do.

So maybe you won't be your ideal self when an artistic block hits, but you can cast votes for that self (ala James Clear) by doing something that moves you towards that goal.

Practice scales, clean up an old piece of writing, clean your paintbrushes. I know that these activities can become tools of procrastination, but they can also be ways to slide into your art. Clean your brushes and when you feel less pressure, use them to paint the background. C

lean up some typos, and then; since you are at the computer anyway, jot down some ideas for the next scene in your script.


The hardest thing is knowing when to push and when to recover. If your gateway task makes you ready to make your art go and do it. And if the task is all you can get done today, at least you'll have clean brushes for tomorrow.


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