Although this is an article about dealing with writer’s block and artist’s block, I’m going to have to start by talking about several seemingly irrelevant topics like Hollywood, aviation, medicine and computers. As usual, there’s a good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.
I can’t remember exactly where I read this (it might have been on “TV Tropes”), but apparently Hollywood films deliberately make any depictions of air travel-based problems look worse than they actually are.
Apparently, rather than lots of scary alarms and general panic inside the cockpit if something goes wrong, real air crews just calmly read through a checklist and follow all sorts of pre-arranged procedures. A similar approach is apparently used in some hospitals to reduce the chances of mistakes during complex procedures.
This “checklist” approach reminded me of the evening before I wrote the first draft of this article, when – without any warning – my vintage computer malfunctioned. Whilst writing an e-mail, the music playing in the background suddenly stopped and the screen was covered with some kind of strange glitchy pattern. A few years ago, this would have probably sent me into an absolute panic.
But, instead, I calmly found myself going through a checklist in my mind. “Windows key?” No. “Ctrl, Alt , Del?“. No. “Reset button?“. No. “Turn it on and off again?“. Yes, but it’s loading slowly. “Get the Linux Live CD ready?“. No need, it’s loading properly. Crisis over. “Google the problem?” Something to do with the graphics card, but it’s never done it before, so it was probably a one-off. Problem over. I didn’t even need to turn my computer on and off at the mains, restore any data from a backup, open the case or talk to someone who knows more about computers or anything like that.
You’d be surprised at how having some kind of pre-made checklist can make problems seem a lot less scary or challenging.
The same thing is true for more leisurely things too. For example, if I’m playing a fairly challenging level of an old computer game, I’ll think of it like something from a game of chess. When someone plays chess, they think thorough every possible move before selecting the one that seems best. After all, most of the time, there’s still a way to win.
So, what does any of this have to do with writing, making art or making comics?
Simple. Feeling uninspired is no different to any of these problems. If you have a mental “checklist” of techniques you can use and you’re experienced enough to know that feeling uninspired is almost always a temporary problem, then it won’t become the terrifying problem that it can often be for less experienced writers, artists etc..
Although the exact details of your checklist will probably be somewhat unique, they can include things like returning to your favourite genres, making fan art/fan fiction, making something a bit more simplistic, looking for an inspiration, plundering your memories for creative inspiration, making still life paintings, writing character studies, deliberately making something crappy because it’s better than making nothing etc…
But, having a mental “checklist” of techniques and the knowledge that the problem you face is only temporary can get rid of most or all of the fear and confusion that often appears when you feel uninspired.
And, yes, if you write a blog about writing, making art etc… then “write blog articles about getting around uninspiration” is usually fairly near the top of the checklist when you can’t think of what to write about. Hence this article 🙂
Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂