Overcoming writer’s block, they say, is done simply by writing.
It’s kind of like building a stone wall. Pick a suitable spot, gather some material and begin putting it together, layer by layer, one block at a time.
My favorite stone walls are the ones found around southern Connecticut and Westchester County, north of New York City. I especially enjoy the ones built in multiple iterations, starting with an existing rocky outcropping and then crafted by multiple authors.
From the standpoint of building creative muscles, it’s better to write and write, even if you’re just filling gaps or un-doing previous work.
Because even the sturdiest of stone walls will eventually begin to crumble if nothing is added to it.
Break through. Write on.
There’s an old bit of business jargon about a forty (or perhaps thirty? twenty? ten?)* thousand foot view. The idea of this term is that “at a high level” you stop focusing on minutia and can see the “big picture” and make out the “broad strokes” of the “larger landscape.”
But perhaps a better metaphor is this: When you’re up in the stratosphere, untethered from the mundane day-to-day realities and barrages of information, that’s when some of the smallest ideas can crystallize and express their beautiful intricacy.
Rather than losing sight of the details here at cruising altitude you can finally see the small, hidden possibilities. You are able to read the glyphs of a wordless language that were there all along, scratched out and buried beneath the surface of your distracted consciousness.
So take note of what you see and what you read up there, because when you come back down to earth, it will quickly melt away and run off with the daily currents.
We see the light of the sun scattering inside our lens.
Our lens — the one in our camera, or eyeball, or mind’s eye — has all kinds of internal inconsistencies.
When the sun’s light scatters inside our lens, what we’re seeing is a reflection of the properties of our lens, rather than the sun itself.
So when we look at the sun, what we really see is a metaphor.
We see the changing of the seasons.
We see the rolling of the earth.
We see the spinning of the stars.
We see religion and science dancing together.
We see the opportunity to grow a garden.
We see the risk of being burned.
Today I closed my eyes and decided just to feel the sun directly.
What I felt was a blessing.
What I felt was love.
“So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”
In most endeavors, the main differentiator is creativity. Creativity requires that we — at least once in a while — no really, please — can we just — yes, there you go — relax.
When to relax?
- When we’re doing the same thing and getting tired of it.
- When we get tired of doing that thing before even starting it.
- When we notice that too many other people are doing that thing now and doing it in an almost formulaic manner.
We may notice that doing that thing — that thing which once seemed meaningful and special — suddenly seems rote and ordinary. The groove is so deeply ingrained, so predetermined and obvious, that we cannot tolerate moving along within it.
The only thing worse than being caught in your own rut is to be caught in someone else’s rut.
When we notice that rut, it’s a clue that it’s time for us to put down our pen/pencil/paintbrush/pixel-pushing device and go for a walk. Off course, of course.
Take a leisurely stroll through open space and unprogrammed time.
Wander in the wilderness and glance across at other seekers along the way.
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
– John Ruskin