It’s so cliché to for an artist to experience what is commonly referred to as a blockage. Writers block, creative block, “I’m so blocked right now.” The word has never quite sat right with me because I feel that it does a poor job at providing adequate descriptive power over what exactly the experience being had holds. The main reason I don’t like when artists say, “I’m just blocked” is because it’s a conversation ender. Because it’s such a universal feeling for us creatives, its almost become an expectation people have for artists to be blocked in some way. So it’s treated the same conversationally as, “I’m so sick to my stomach,” in that, there is a quick nod of sympathy and a “say no more” kind of follow up. People don’t like to talk about shit.
I have always chosen to say, “I’m feeling paralyzed.” Not only does it more aptly tell those listening what you’re feeling, but it invites a call to action. People want to help, and they can help if given the opportunity to give a push. It’s a little more vulnerable to say that you are paralyzed, but I think it’s important. It’s the difference between, “say no more” and “Oh my God I totally understand that feeling, lets talk about it.”
I’m blocked = A wall
I’m Paralyzed = A door
I have been trying to figure out what to call the space I’m in now because I’m not paralyzed but I’m also not producing the work yet. I’ve never been here before. I’d say I’ve been more paused than anything. Biding time, waiting to release something that is coming. Building up a net of collaborators, having meetings, working on verbiage, ideating. I’ve nearly got every duck in a row on paper and in people, and though I’ve been busy conceptualizing and troubleshooting, I’ve had to pause in my action. It’s kind of like I’ve filled the balloon and now I’m waiting for the time to pop it. I think this is what happens when you’ve learned a thing or two about bringing big ideas into the world, you change your approach as you grow.
It took some time though to come around to the idea that inaction can be an intelligent and necessary thing. Appearing publicly inactive is a strange thing because in the head of the artist, it can sometimes feel like a lack of productivity, which is what all the work behind the scenes for me feels like. If I have nothing material produced to share with the world, how else do I get that feeling of having been productive, how do I learn to value the planning as work, the process of putting something together as work?
I’ve been silently working on something I really believe in for a year.
And reallllllly soon I’m gonna let it out.