This modest collection of tweets is only a snapshot into the consuming hellfire that is writer’s block. I had never experienced this inescapable existential crisis, so I had zero skills on how to combat it. (caution: animated images!)
This all started long before May 7th — by the time I started tweeting about it, I’d already descended into madness. I had gotten arrogant: “Oh, I don’t experience writer’s block,” I’d say to colleagues, “Sometimes I lack the willpower to finish a piece, but I don’t ever struggle to start a new one.”
I had angered the gods. Like Prometheus, I had to be punished for my defiance, but instead of having an eagle nosh on my liver every day, I was sentenced to waking up every morning with nothing in my head except cobwebs and frustration.
I decided to do some file and folder organization. This led to listening to some old compositions. “UGH! What was I thinking?”
Whatever, I thought, I’ll focus on other obligations today, and tomorrow I’ll start that new choral piece.
I cracked open a new pack of Starburst and sat down with a cup of tea to get some writing done. I set up a brand new file, grinning like an idiot, and then it hit me.
There was nothing in my brain. No ideas, no inspiration, no creativity. My head was an empty vessel, a barren desert of angry sand. “It’s cool, ” I reasoned, “Everyone has a couple of off days now and then. Tomorrow will be better.”
I woke up with a fierce determination to write some music, even if it killed me. I opened Finale, strapped on my headphones, and attacked the screen with more hunger than a starving wolf in Yellowstone Park.
I worked diligently for an hour, crafting what I was sure were heartfelt, passionate melodies and wide, touching harmonies. I hit playback.
Existential Breakdown. Why did I get a music degree? I’m not a musician! My compositions are terrible! I can’t sing! My blog is boring!
“Alright, writer’s block, I’m taking the proverbial bull by the horns. I’m going to FINISH a new piece of music today. Even if it’s terrible. It might be terrible.”
I decided to listen to some Mozart and do some research for an article I was writing to get back in the mood for composing. Obviously forcing music out didn’t work, maybe this would. So I waited.
Waiting wasn’t working either. So then I decided on a new tactic.
I have discovered that writer’s block isn’t something that everyone can just snap out of and proceed to write their greatest opus (or novel, or whatever). For some of us, escaping this is a bit more painful.
Here’s hoping that next month will be more productive.
***This was originally posted on Musically Notable, where I write about old music, new music, and everything in between.