Over the past year, I have learned to push myself to be a much more productive composer (with quite a long way to go, I must say–I am quite a procrastinator). Even so, “writer’s block” is often that #1 universal excuse to fall back on to not get work done. It evokes a sense of pity: the writer/poet/songwriter/composer/(fill in the blank here) who, as a slave to his or her own artistic language, can’t be set free, and is alone in a dimly-lit room, scribbling desperate fragments of illusive masterpieces, only to later condemn them as inferior and cast them, sailing, into a nearby brimming wastebasket, teeming with irredeemable rejects of the like.
Like many, I admit to this crippling behavior, and I understand that artists are human and can’t always be expected to produce like factories while maintaining quality and integrity with their work. However, there are many strategies to get the ball rolling and simply do what needs to be done. For me, one of these strategies is changing my work environment.
I have had my pitiful “lonely artist at the desk” moments, but for the most part I try to put myself in places where I can at least “feel” more productive and fake the funk until I actually start moving somewhere artistically. As a college student, I try to avoid composing in my bedroom where there are too many sources for distractions, including my own computer. Personally, I love the pencil-and-paper method, even though I fondly use it as a hybrid with Sibelius during the process. I’m not militant about it, but I feel it is the best thing for me to do especially when I am sketching out a piece and brainstorming. A laptop can be quite a distraction. Therefore, I often take pencil and paper and embark on a pilgrimage to the library (yes, a place with no instruments around–they often distract me too).
Every now and then, I meet up in the library or elsewhere on campus with friends who are also doing creative work. We don’t work in collaboration with each other, but we’ll sit together as moral support/accountability for making sure that we get work done. (They are creative writing majors, so they are familiar with the artistic battle.) That seems to be one of the greatest weapons in my anti-writer’s block arsenal so far–I simply feel stupid daydreaming and staring at the walls when other people are getting work done.
A while back, I ran across an interesting post featured on Freshly Pressed, a feature of WordPress.com. It is entitled “The Fantasy Treehouse: Favorite Writing Spaces”, and it is an enlightening perspective on a writer who went to Taiwan to do research for her manuscript. Talk about lovely scenery!
Where do you like to create, and with whom around? Answer the polls, and feel free to discuss/explain in the comments below!