“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Grandmaster Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
This is the advice I’ve been given time and time again, and if it seems like a load of barnacles, it’s because you just aren’t dao enough, man.
No, but I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s the middle of the day, you’ve sat down to write – you’re trying to beat this thing without inspiration, you’re going to break down those walls and…and…nothing. You stare at the keyboard. You type a word. You misspell that word. Backspace. You misspell it again. Spell check cannot identify the word. You’ve failed as a writer.
Saying that anyone can beat writer’s block by writing is like saying anyone can beat obesity by dieting. Really, some people can do it. But, we’ve been told time and time again, even body is different. My weight is not the same as your weight. So it should come to no shock to you that my mind is not the same as your mind. When I can’t write, I can’t. There are no words in my mind to even get onto the page – and to beat wordlessness by producing words is a ridiculous paradox that is extremely frustrating to attempt. So what do you do?
Read. This solution is one of many, of course. Pick up a book, go through some poetry, binge on wordpress, deviantART, fanfiction – bring words to your mind. Because within each of these stories there is an exchange between author and reader, a secret sort of conversation where two people can share ideas without having to ever talk to each other. When you become invested in something, it becomes easier to throw that investment into your own writing.
Watch. TV, movies, YouTube. Watch slam poetry because the poets read those words in a way you could never read them. What YouTubers talk about thinks that you love. Watch a TV show that makes you invested in the plot as it unfolds episode by episode by episode by episode. Watch poetry unfold on the screen of a film. Or dick and fart jokes. Whatever tickles your fancy. Watch these words, hear them spoken, and let it resonate within you. Then throw it all at your computer keyboard.
Listen. Your favorite band, a string quartet, Justin Beiber, whatever makes you happy. Whatever you love. Feel the words. And, like previously stated in my over-stated hippie rant, write it down, man.
When it all comes down to it, everything that has already been created has a struggle behind it. The struggle of the artist, the struggle of writer’s block, what have you. And everything created is a conversation between the creator and the viewer, the performer and the spectator. When you feel the words, the space between words, the things that words cannot say, perhaps, you’ll find your own.
Veteran writers scoff at the idea of inspiration. Don’t wait for inspiration, they say. And they’re right. Make your own inspiration. Because it’s there, it’s always there. And, even if someday you forget it like they have, you have to learn how to find it. It isn’t just there. Not for most of us.
So, when faced without the unimaginably empty weight of being unable to write, become close with something you love. And if that doesn’t work, get a pen and a stack of papers. Write a sentence on the first paper and burn it for existing. Keep going until you’ve burned enough pages to fill a book. Realize you’ve burned a book. Write about that.