WRITE WITH BOTH EYES OPEN
I sat staring deep
into the pixelated field of my computer screen. Purple blotches began to throb around my peripheral vision. My head hurt and I was beginning to gain a true agitation. This is frustratingly common for me. I tell everyone I am a writer, and by some of my work, you may be fooled into thinking so. But if you were to peep into the coffee shop window of “writer’s block-past”, you would see me many times glaring at a laptop screen and grinding my teeth.
Why do I end up here so much? And why is it that every moment of every hour my brain is teeming to the brim with true creative greatness; that is until I sit down to capture any of it in writing? Maybe it’s not such a mystery. Let me step back and look at it from another perspective.
When shooting a gun;
sometimes in an attempt to be more accurate in aim; an amateur shuts one eye, the other bulging open, and all the face in an incredible crunch. Supposedly (because I have never actually been in firearm combat… outside of Call of Duty waves) this is a horrible way to go about a firefight. They say you should relax your face, and shoot with both eyes open. Remember how John Smith in “Pocahontas” taught Thomas to do that and he totally nailed Kocoum at 50 yards with a flintlock!? “Both eyes open”! Okay, before we stray…
Sometimes I sit there trying to write with one eye jammed shut, and my face scrunched up like a squeezed sponge, trying to pull material magically out of my head. But I’m not entirely sure if I am capable of materializing the kind of content that would inspire and enthrall the human mind right of my self-assumed genius brain. I forget how entirely dependent I am on the living world around me.
I remember, years back,
writing a creative blog. I sat in my tiny apartment one night trying with all my mind to think of a post. To think of something grand and different. I couldn’t do it. I almost achieved a nose-bleed thinking so hard. I was convinced that somewhere inside me was this incredible inspiration. That if I could only reach down inside me a little farther than I could grab hold of a story hidden deep inside my consciousness. I eventually became too tired to hassle with it, and in an effort to fill the blog with some kind of regular content, I wrote a post about my train ride that morning. It seemed of little consequence. Since that day back sometime in 2010, that post has not ceased to touch and uplift those who read it. Was I surprised? A little. But then no, not really. The most beauty, I have realized, is in truth. In things that are real.
When someone writes something great- or when someone does anything great, whether they make a movie, write a song, paint a picture, tell a story- the best things are taken openly from the environment around the artist.
We live in a dynamic and breathing world.
Often distracted by our self-interests and the ever-increasing digital screen time you are bound to have, this may go, at times, unappreciated.
Sometimes the greatest art has already been painted and orchestrated in our environment. Look up from this screen right now and gaze around you. Look at the contours of people’s faces. Look at the sky. For pete-freaking sake, think of the sky! Do you know how much human creativity the sky has inspired upon the mind of man? Heck, it may be the sole reason we have been able to; as an intelligent, self-aware species; know that we live on a sphere in the billowing blackness of space!
So why do I have writer’s block? Because often I find myself trying to create with one eye jammed shut, staring at my screen. And as a result, I often miss the mark trying too hard.
Instead of trying so hard
to think of something to write- or film, or draw, or play- maybe everything we need is already in the world around us. Maybe inspiration is more readily available than we think? Take a walk, go spend time with people, find the greatest material available just in living- then create.
Shoot with both eyes open.
And for a little extra boost of inspiration, here is a similar counsel from our good friend Sting:
STING: HOW I STARTED WRITING SONGS AGAIN