[A]s a child, I remember sitting, listening to my teacher in school talking about the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. He had a writer’s block—there was a period where he couldn’t write. I put my hand up and said: “Why didn’t he write about that?”
It’s been a year since I put a pause on The Big Crunch. I’ve done a little sketching in my journal. I’ve brainstormed some histories. But on the whole, I haven’t made much art in general, let alone anything pertaining to the comic. And you know what I have to say to myself for that egregious period of inactivity?
When I heard that Bono quote in college, I thought it showed a lot of wisdom. I still do, honestly. But I’ve never had a problem working through writer’s block. I can write a thousand words a day, and it won’t bother me how nonsensical and meandering they are.
Drawer’s block, though. What the bloody hell do you do with drawer’s block?
I confess, I still feel like a trespasser when it comes to drawing. I put it aside for seven years, from age 18 to 25, and I still feel immense guilt for doing so, despite indulging other forms of art like theater and music that I know were essential to growing my soul. But the guilt persists, and if you’ll pardon a cadence that mimics Yoda in The Phantom Menace: guilt leads to resentment, resentment leads to anger, anger leads to frustration, frustration leads to defeat.
And I would feel defeated right now, if I weren’t so goddamned stubborn.
This past November, I ran my first half-marathon. My training schedule crumbled in October while I was recovering from a minor injury (let’s just say it’s something that happens to runners in their 30′s and we’ll leave it at that). So, when I came to the starting line, I was less than prepared. But I ran it, despite thigh spasms and rigid knees by the eleventh mile. And I stayed under ten minutes a mile, which was my goal.
I can only attribute that success to stubbornness. When every twitch of your muscle is screaming for you to stop, stubbornness is sometimes the only thing fueling the fire. Stubbornness is a subtler form of rage, and rage is second only to rapture as the motivation for great works of art.
So. What do you do when you have drawer’s block? What do you do when your creative endeavors feel arduous and stilted? As it turns out, you do the same thing as you do when you have writer’s block. You get stubborn, and damn it, you draw anyway.
Do your lines make you angry and frustrated? Let them show your anger and frustration. Is your brain a storm of advice and admonitions from other artists? Draw like you’re deliberately trying to piss them off. Can’t get your inner critic to shut up? Punch him in the throat. Draw with a vengeance. Draw like you’re trying to set your pages on fire. Draw like it doesn’t matter that you satisfy anyone, including yourself, because sometimes yourself is an asshole.
And on that note, you might also try forgiving yourself, too. That, perhaps, is the most important hurdle to leap when it comes to creative blocks.
We can’t all be Bono, after all.