I smashed against the impenetrable wall of writer’s block a week ago, and have been spending these last few days picking up scattered teeth and piecing my battered soul back together again. I do apologize for my absence. It was entirely my fault.
Well, now. Smile. There we go. Good as new.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you, dear reader, like the pompous little lass that I am, about what I learned from this particularly awful slump. I know that the title of this post is rather hackneyed. Words like ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ have been tossed around so much in the great self-help salad of the internet that they have all but lost their sparkle. Let’s see if I can rub some warmth back into these cold, limp bodies, shall we? Sorry for the tone of voice in this post, by the way. I still have a chip in my tooth, and it makes all my words come out high-fluting and whistle-y.
But. Yes. Joy. Most important. Our culture tends to have a grit-our-teeth-and-do-the-hard-work mentality. We don’t skate between the trees; we pummel and crash through them, plowing them down and shouting, with blood frothing at our lips, “Out of my way!”, leaving a wake of uprooted trunks and trampled squirrels in our wake. Maybe this stems from capitalism, and the unsavory occupations people are often forced to take to survive, or maybe this mentality is instilled within us by our authoritative figures such as our parents. You know what I mean. To achieve success, one must suffer, sacrifice. When you write, blood shall bead on your forehead. Play the guitar until your fingers bleed. Burn the midnight oil and pore over manuscripts until your eyes shrivel in your head. No pain, no gain. You get the idea.
This might work for some people. Maybe it even works for you. After collapsing from exercise, limbs jittery and muscles aching and trembling, one can derive a good deal of satisfaction in the knowledge that they are making themselves fitter, healthier and better-looking. But I have realized, that without joy, many things are not worth doing, especially creative endeavors.
This epiphany was the culmination of many days of agony. I had been trying to yank stories out of their metaphysical wombs with little to no success, banging away at my keyboard with the ferocity of a drunken piano player. Rubbish spilled across the screen, and I lay, every night, in a stupor of ruptured dreams and broken hopes, bleeding great dark streams of despair. And suddenly, I woke up one weekend and realized I was having no fun at all. The passion behind the writing had dissipated. I had turned it into work, a mere chore. I’d lost the sparkle that had dazzled and lured me to writing in the first place.
Now I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t do things that make you feel bored or are hard. But no matter what you do, you should find a seed of enjoyment in it, because only from that can true good work sprout. Only from that can you truly live. There’s no point in agonizing over every action, every word. I don’t know what task you’re struggling with in your life, but whatever it is, try to inject some playfulness and joy into it. I wish I could say that it’ll solve all your problems, but it won’t – it’ll just make them easier to deal with. When you get lost, instead of tearing your hair out and screaming at people traveling with you, treat it as an adventure. If you hate your job and can’t find a better alternative at the moment, make it fun – pretend you’re undercover, luxuriate in the nice feel of fingers tapping on keyboards. Find the happiness within the muck. Arrange the muck into a dripping, muck-colored snowman, if only to amuse yourself.
And if you’re a writer…well, I’m hardly a seasoned one, but I truly believe that you should only do work that bursts out of your heart in leaps of joy. Write stuff that excites you. Write what makes your heart tinkle. It is how I broke through my block, and perhaps will help you break through yours. Just a thought.
I wish you all happiness.