January 27, 2010


"What's holding me back?"

It's a question I've been asking a lot recently. And I've realized part of the answer.

I've been facing some of that Ye Olde Writer's Block lately. It's not for lack of trying. I just can't get myself to move forward. Something has been holding me back. I think I've figured out the answer to that question . . . although, the answer to the answer is proving a little more elusive.

Of course you, dear reader, have already figured out what I have to say because, frankly, you know how to read. And you've read this far. So you've probably read the title of this entry.

What's holding me back?


Whenever I start to work lately, I've found myself wracked with doubt. "What if it's not good enough?" "What if I'm biting off more than I can chew with this project?" "What if no one wants to read it?" "What if people finally figure out that I'm really no good?" "What if I can't support my family doing this?" (That last question has particular power recently, when a client did not pay me for a long period of time, at a time when it was really needed.)

I think these doubts are common for any artist. If an artist doesn't have doubts like this, they are either: 1. Delusional; 2. Arrogant; 3. Genius; or, 4. Terrible.

I think that my current round of fear comes not from a lack of ideas or motivation, but instead from some recent success and failure. The success I've had is prompting the doubt: "You'll never be able to keep this up" while the failure I've had is backing it up with a "See, I told you so."

So there's the answer to the question . . . but what's the answer to the answer?

In nature, fear is a good thing and it prompts the whole "flight or fight" response. In facing off with writer's block? I mean, let's face it, writer's block is nowhere near the same as a deer being stalked by a pack of wolves. Even so, the principle remains the same, I think.

You can face it head on, or you can run away. In my case, running is not an option. And yet it's been the option I've chosen. Instead of writing, I've cleaned my desk . . . repaired the harddrive that was holding some files hostage . . . cleaned my desk again (it gets messy fast) . . . watched Farscape (man, that show is amazing . . . why didn't I watch it before?) . . . cleaned out a filing cabinet . . .

I should be fighting. I should be working.

Hmmm, perhaps I shouldn't be blogging. Of course, writing this blog is a good warm up, right? Or is it just another thing that I'm attaching importance to in an excuse to avoid what I should be doing?

Time to face those fears head on. Time to lower my head, stomp my foot, and launch my antlers headlong into that pack of wolves!

After I make some tea . . .

~ Ben

PS -- I love swamp monsters.

Samurai art by Tim Baron, (c) 2009

1 comment:

Josh said...

Mmmm.... I can totally relate.

And for some reason when I read your list about why fear would be absent... I thought of the American Idol auditions....