“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” – T.E. Lawrence
Those who dream of creating, of dreaming in the day, come up with all sorts of excuses for not acting on the passions that lurk in their hearts. Writer’s block is a common excuse, a common word that most truly describes the terror one feels when faced with negative space, with white pages consisting only of wood pulp and possibilities. So, then, every creator worth their salt will tell you that making something is hard work, that the only thing holding you back is sitting down to the computer and putting words and images and dreams on the page.
The most terrifying thing we face as artists is that sometimes words just don’t come. Sometimes the lines on the page resist you like insolent children. Sometimes the pages stay blank.
Those times are the hardest, the most intense. Feelings of self doubt roll in like smoke clouds from a bonfire, burning all the words you might write, all the pictures you might paint, all the stories you might tell. These times are also the most important to work through. To make something bad and terrible just to say that you made something.
As the time honored adage goes: if you aren’t making something, start. Worry about the details later.
This is but a half-truth.
The wonderful things we create, the moments when we feel we have come closest to our goal, are built on the ghosts of past failures, yes, but also on the dreams of the day, the times when our minds are at peace and we have time to stop and contemplate, to make the strange and wonderful connections that make our art unique.
I am not one to disparage modern technology like some old dusty wizard, clinging to an idea of the past that never existed. Distractions from our most deeply held ambitions have always been there waiting for us, but somehow they seem not to slow us down. I’d say that rather than slowing down creation of new and interesting work, newer technologies make it easier to create than ever. But those creations are now available to us at all times. The judging eyes of every artist we admire are always on us, their consistent myriad of creations always telling us we could do so much more. So we stop before we begin. We often choose not to create, for who could keep up with them?
These moments of peace help us recharge. As artists we often feel we must create and consume on a constant basis.
It helps to stop and listen to the silence for a while, to dream in our own heads, our own worlds.