I was telling camparigirl that I feel ‘flat, flat, flat’ at the moment. Couldn’t form a creative thought, no inspiration, zero impetus: flat. “Oh”, she said … “I go through that too sometimes. It’ll come back.”
I get nervous when I hear the words ‘artistic process’. All sounds a bit navel gazing to the paragmatist in me. And let me be clear: I, in no way, consider myself an artist of any description. My flatness is a general thing: the food I have been cooking isn’t coming together right, I can’t get motivated to exercise, I am wearing the easiest, most boring clothes in my wardrobe, on repeat.
I’m not so much stuck on the ‘poopenstance’ book for the kids, as not getting to it. I need to deliver by Xmas: as that’s when I have promised them the first chapters, at least. And I don’t take my promises lightly.
I’m not even enjoying reading magazines or watching my favourite TV programs – my eyes are slipsliding and my brain is mashed potato. I think it is overload rather than a stroke. And I need to get a move on. But how?
This is from a letter written in 1965 , by the artist by Sol Lewitt to the sculptor Eva Hesse. She was creatively stuck and mired in doubt and difficulty. The advice he gives her is brilliant. He was talking art – but I think it applies to overcoming any block: creative or otherwise.
“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…
Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety…
You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!… Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT.
And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be…
I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before you work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself.”
(Thanks to Thomas Dozol for the piece. All images in the public domain. )