I’m having a dry spell, as revealed in my dearth of postings recently.
So I’ve adopted an old writer’s trick when in a dry spell or when stuck by “writer’s block” – I’m going to write about not being able to write.
The immediate effect of starting to write about not being able to write is that I have to face the fact that I CAN write as …here I am writing.
Which leads to one point of clarity – the problem is not the ability to write, the problem is something else.
I have a basic belief about myself and most humans in most situations – if I’m not doing something then I’m not doing it because I don’t want to do it. I might have very good reasons TO do it but still not WANT to do it, for other good reasons.
Oh that is another part of my beliefs here – all reasons are “good” reasons. I don’t mean morally good, or good as in helpful, I mean good as in genuine, actual, real, to be respected, worth recognising and understanding.
Sometimes understanding “reasons” helps bring an internal change, but often change does not require insight – in fact there is plenty of research that suggests that ‘personal insight’ leads to changes in our behaviour no more often than any other dynamic, including external inputs such as good luck or bad luck.
Back to my dilemma, I have had a few dry weeks, each time I thought about writing a blog for this blog my “don’t think about that” skills would kick in and a couple of days later I’d notice I had forgotten to start to write. I’d feel slightly bad for a few moments then go back to not thinking about it for another couple of days.
Clearly I have been avoiding something but I have no idea what I am avoiding.
I’m glad that David has been pressing on with his postings here, that is one of the good things about being in a partnership, being part of a team – nothing rests on a single pair of shoulders and the progress of other team members can help drag me out of my own spot of bogged-down-ness. Yes, I could have written “inertia” but reading bogged-down-ness has a bit of the quality to which it refers and that is a great characteristic for words. For word lovers, please note that inertia and bogged-down-ness both have three syllables, at least in actual pronunciation, but one slides off the tongue and the other grabs your tongue and clumsily flails around trying to go back down your throat rather than out between your lips.
Words are cool, a whole world of wonders and mysteries and delights and playfulness.
My basic assumption about myself is that when I’m not doing something I really enjoy doing the most likely reason for my inaction is my fear.
I assume that even when I am not aware of feeling fear and when I don’t have much clue about what COULD be worth fearing in the task or activity.
Fear and death are related, at least in the West, where I was raised and still live. I’m not going to go off on a tangent here in which I make my argument about fear and death being related in people’s psychology and in social discourse, by which I mean, the things we discourse about only obliquely, in code, or not at all.
I think the connection for me, forgive me leaving out an awful lot of background and details that might make this seem more sensible to you gentle reader, is that death echoes with pointlessness and meaninglessness and whatever it is I fear is probably somehow related also to beliefs or concerns I have about pointlessness or meaninglessness. It is a kind of circle, which I might unpack some other time or in some other place but not here and now as here and now my only goal is to write about not writing and thus to stop not writing at least for a few hundred words.
As to the title of this post – I’m pretty sure that all cultures that have written language have the concept of “writer’s block” or “dry spells”, indeed as I think as I write I see that any culture with artists, even without a written language, might have the concept of ‘dry spell’.
We can see that I have ‘assumed’ a psychological explanation for my own dry spell.
That is interesting because the psychological way of seeing humans is a fairly new thing, only about one hundred and fifty years old. We tend to read our psychological narrative back into things we read from antiquity but just because some of the words look familiar, or can be interpreted with our psychological frame of reference does not mean folks hundreds of years ago were seeing humans the way we see ourselves.
Psychological thinking is really creative storytelling tradition, it has helped us understand ourselves a lot, its a great tool, but it is not “the truth” any more than myths and legends and stories told under star bright skies around murmuring open fires are “the truth”, nor any more than the stories we tell ourselves in our movies and tv shows and pop songs – all are tools we use to talk about ourselves to ourselves. None are “the truth”, certainly not the psychology story but it is the story I just jumped right into using as I wrote this blog stream of consciousness style.
I wonder what narratives, what frames of reference, what explanations, other cultures use to explain a creative dry spell?