Lately, there has been a lot of talk of walls. Depending on your political leanings, a wall could be a good or bad idea.
My mind has been recently thinking about a different type of wall. If you’re a creative type, this barrier is one that you’re probably all too familiar with. This is the wall that a good many of us hit, and hit hard.
I’m talking about the ol’ Wall of Blocked Creativity. Most of us just know it as The Wall.
It’s an ugly topic, and one I don’t particularly relish bringing up. But, in my struggles with this epic barrier, I’ve found it’s common to so many of us. We don’t like to discuss it much. I mean, who wants to dispel the illusion that our passion and creativity are an infinite resource? Heaven forbid that any of our followers (or worse yet, a potential future client) would discover that we are, in fact, one masterpiece away from the bottom of the well.
Some of us can see that dreaded and foreboding barrier coming a long way off. It lurks on the horizon like a black thread of impassability. Monolithic and broad, it thwarts our speed and blocks our normally optimistic view of the future. We cruise to a crawl as we approach, it’s bulk threatening our very profession. Finally, we come to an eventual stop at its base as we gaze upward and sideways to assess its worth.
Others of us don’t even take the time to look up from our drawing board, and when we eventually hit, it’s like hitting the side of a concrete dam. The impact shakes us to our cores, and the reverberations last well beyond the initial impact. Broken creative bones are common in this scenario, and those cracked limbs have a mandatory healing downtime.
Deposited along the base are the tattered remains of those who have gone on before. Skeletons of abandoned careers. Corpses of those who have given up. Frequently, other creatives loiter there at the crowded base, chipping away at the granite face with pencils that are wearing to nubs.
However, here and there along the base are tunnels dug under and ladders scaling over. Those are the remnants of gritty creatives who have faced the eventuality of the Wall, and overcame. It would be tempting to simply use their ways and get to the other side. The Wall, though, requires each who approach it to forge their own exit. The former victories can be inspirations, but those at the Wall must create their own destiny. We are creatives, after all.
Life at the wall sucks, frankly. Frustration, fear and angst occur in abundance. Second-guessing and other, more devious practices abound as well. I had the pleasure of spending some time there last year. “Frustration, fear and angst” didn’t even begin to describe my mood. I learned some stuff while I was there. Some things I didn’t particularly enjoy. But, it wasn’t a wasted experience, by any means. Someday soon, when this is far enough in the rear view mirror, I’ll share my thoughts on my time there.
I can say that, if you’re a creative type; an artist, a writer, a musician, a dancer, or any such type, the Wall is an unfortunate possibility in this career that we’ve chosen to undertake. In fact, i’ve discovered that a good many of us have spent our required time at the Wall. Most creatives worth their salt have toiled away at the Wall, engineering their escape. Their careers have been the better for it.
My advice: know in advance that hitting that Wall is a distinct possibility, and that’s OK. Hitting the wall doesn’t define you as a creative. Staying there does. If you can spend some proactive time now, crafting your own avenue of escape from the Wall, you’ll have it ready when you do come to it.
How did I get there and how did I get over/around/through it? Topics for another time, my friend.