A List to Fail

Assalamualaikum.


My hair tie sits beside me, as stagnant as I am. I grab it, tie my hair into a ponytail and let it hang at the base of my neck. But it’s too hot in here – so I take it off, style my hair up into a bun at the top of my head instead. The hair bun was so tight, it pulled on my scalp. But that’s how I like it best – so the breeze could reach me, and there’s nothing to tickle my ears. Besides – I have work to do, stories to tell and fingers itching to type on the laptop that hummed faintly on my lap. Things that were calling for me, more important things compared to worrying about hair. Step one: get the thick helmet that is my hair out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind.

I glance down at the notebook sitting to my right, where I had scribbled ideas on to non-stop from the moment I first opened the book and started writing only days ago. Or was it weeks ago? I can’t tell when – it somehow feels like a long time ago, now that I think of it. Whenever it was exactly doesn’t really matter at the moment. What really matters now is that I have ideas on my mind and on paper, and that I need to turn them into something – something else; something more. So I narrow my eyes, focus my gaze. It’s time to pay attention.

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I lock my gaze on to the notebook, squint real hard. But the writings on it look so foreign all of a sudden, the words seeming as if they were written in a different language – a language I don’t speak; a mess of words I don’t recognize. I blink, look at it again. And again. The same sense of unfamiliarity greets me. With each look, the words become blurrier and blurrier. Maybe it’s because there’s so many things going on in my head that I can’t seem to discern the stuff that’s right front of me. Maybe that itch and that calling was stronger than I thought – and that it wanted me to do things now. Well, then. That’s okay. I’ve looked at my notebook enough times before this, anyway. I’m sure that when I open up a new page on my laptop and start typing, the ideas would flow easily – the way they did when they first came to mind. Yes, maybe that’s the way. Step two: look back at what you’ve brainstormed. Then begin creating. 

I shift my gaze to the fresh, blank page in front of me. I take a deep breath in, start typing. A few words find their way across; a few sentences take form. The ideas are flowing out of me, much more fluid than I expected. I’m gaining momentum. I can feel it in my fingertips, hear the continuous series of clicks on the keyboard – a sweet, lilting melody of words dancing from my heart, to the air, to the page – as I type my heart on to-

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I stop, re-read what I’ve written so far. I loosen a breath and it comes out a sigh. A long, shuddering, disappointing sigh. What I’ve written sounds ridiculous. They didn’t sound the way they did in my head, weren’t half as amazing as I imagined. They sound like rubbish, if rubbish could talk. Backspace everything. Don’t leave a word behind; none of them are good enough to stay. And to think that I was actually on a roll. That I was actually creating something. What a joke.

The words disappear, swallowed up by a blank page once again. I lift my hand with the intention to start typing anew, but my fingers hang midair, curving towards the keyboard, but with no definite destination – I’m not sure where I should release them: what word to write, what letter to choose. They fall on the keyboard a second later with a soft thud. I stare at the blank page, and it stares right back, a glare as unflinching as the sun’s. And as if I was indeed, looking up at the sun itself, I find that I can’t stand looking at the blank page any longer. I look away, and my heart sinks.

Suddenly, the sound of my laptop humming is louder. It grows louder and louder still, until I can barely hear anything else over it. Not the faint chatter in the background to enlighten the silence that accompanies sitting with family. Not the buzzing in my head that I heard earlier, chiming words and chanting ideas excitedly. Not even the thunderous rampage inside me where my heart is knocking itself forcefully against my chest, pumping blood and flooding adrenaline into my veins like a broken dam,  a wave of a tsunami. I hear nothing.

Nothing, now – save for the unsettling silence of walls that trapped me and enclosed me against what would have been a vast ocean of vivid imagery, a string of beautiful, eloquent words, and a pulsing beating heart, yearning with the desire to create.

Step three: when that awful kind of silence takes over, stop.


And that, my friends, is what a creative block looks like – or, at least, it’s how I put moments where I get struck by a blast of un-inspiration, stagnancy and blankness into words.

Those moments have been happening more and more lately. Which I find really surprising because one would have thought that a break from university, with as close to nothing to do other than – oh, I don’t know, maybe be creative,  would be the perfect recipe for creativity. Months before this, I could easily blame a lack of inspiration on not having time to sit down, look out the window and browse through other blogs. But for a few weeks now, I got to sit down, stare out windows upon windows and browse through months-old blog posts from people and yet I still feel uninspired. And it drives me insane, being so still and stiff when my mind and my heart screams to do things. I have the kick and the drive to create, but when I start to actually create, everything goes blank. It’s like my whole system shuts down and I can’t do a single thing. At least not a single thing that I feel is worth it.

Times like this, I really find to be frustrating. So I started thinking about maybe just taking a break and some time away from doing things, so that I can do things. (Yes, I am the queen of not making sense. I own that title, I earn it). What I mean to say is, instead of trying to create the perfect blog post or take the perfect picture or write the perfect story, I can spend that time reading a good book, working on that crochet project, baking and watching a favourite show, eating with family and chatting with friends, playing with cats and making up cat words, looking out the window and thinking about life and death and things that are worth it: things that make me feel like me.

“Do what you love and love what you do.”

That’s a mantra of mines; a saying I’ve always loved and live by. It looks good in this post; it compliments this post pretty well – more so than it would have complimented the post I had in mind for it weeks ago (I planned to write up a whole post surrounding the quote with this funky kind of pictures and cutesy poses but hey, having poured my heart out over what I’ve just finished writing on a whim, yet again at nearly 11PM on a Monday night, I’m starting to think that me not being able to design that initial idea into a post was perhaps the perfect recipe to creativity after all).

Creativity, among all of the other things it conveys, is freedom – the freedom to set yourself up to a list to fail, to fail miserably, and then to go back to the things you love in order to create things you will love.

So I’m going to step back, do the things that I love, and somewhere along the way, I’ll fall in love with the things that I create through the process.

 

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2 thoughts on “A List to Fail

  1. Waalaikumussalam Iween,
    this post speaks to me (in a different tone of course XD) loud and clear.
    Have I ever say this to you? I love your writing, I love the way you write and this is definitely not an exception. Your words either spoken or written just speaks loud to me and I dont think it has anything to do with us being friends or whatnot. I am a big fan of fanfictions (lol/ i know/ I spend a huge amount of time reading them) and when a work really appeal to me, my mind just become blank. And the words just began to speak.
    Thats how exactly how I felt when I read your words.

    The reason this post why this just resonate to me is because I have been suffering from artist block as of lately. I am used to it though cause it always come around the holiday when my mind is totally unoccupied but definitely demand for something to do (so unreasonable ain’t it?). Somehow though this holiday starts off unlike any other holidays I ever had. I remember spending each day of my past holidays taking out my pen/tablet/books and just stare at the list of prompts to draw, browse the internet or my huge collection of pictures for inspirations, ended up with nothing and give up. For comfort I’d tell myself that I have more days to come so its nothing to be so depressed about. However in the end, I ended with nothing to ponder back to.
    And that is where it differs this time around.
    I push myself in a way that isnt too forceful. It usually start with circles on my notepad and most of the times ended up with the same characters (spend for a time too long) but it doesnt matter cause it actually make me happy that I went through it and do enjoy them. It actually surprises me that since the start of the holiday the only days I didnt draw were about two days and I probably spend them trying to watch my anime (hahah trust me when I say I had a hard time doing that too).

    In the end even if our approaches are different they ended up with us loving what we ended up doing <3 .
    "DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO"
    As usual we who chase creativity would definitely meet with a whole lot of different struggles. It may be there when we dont have the time to deal with it (so me), it may be there when we are least conscious of it and I guess that's freedom in itself.
    There's this quote from the book "Le petit Prince" that says "It is the time you wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important", it's very symbolic but surely you'll get what it's trying to say.
    It is and has always been a tough journey for us creators but we love it and is exactly why we never stop.

    Well then,
    Ani

    Like

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