Draino for the Brain
Ever have those moments when you can FEEL a major gushing feeling inside, as if your brain and soul bladders were ooze-bursting with those five pitchers of creativity you just chugged down last night while watching some TV show, reading a good book, or being out on the prowl with your posse?
Knowing that the dam’s gonna blow anytime, you rush over to your desk, pull out a sheet of instant paper porta-potty (or perhaps you’re more of a Windows WordCrapper 2000-kinda person), unzip your mind to whip out your “ballpoint”, and then…
…nothing comes out.
Welcome to the painful condition known as Creative Constipation.
This dreadful condition should not be confused with Writers’ Block. Writers’ Block usually comes about when you have a deadline or a goal, an objective that you have to meet, and your brain, rather than having a bajillion ideas slosh inside, is actually a cerebral Dry Gulch. While Creative Constipation is an uncontrollable impending flood of potential idea flow, Writers’ Block is a drought of inspiration.
Creative constipation usually develops when you have NO deadlines or objectives to meet. It strikes suddenly and without warning, often taking the form of spontaneous urges to write or draw or craft something. You could be making dinner, watching TV, sitting on the bus, climbing Mt. Annapurna at the time â€“ essentially, you are never THINKING about wanting to be creative when it starts to tingle and tickle at your synaptic bowels.
It’s more painful than Writers’ Block because you FEEL the weight and pressure of this roaring thoughtwater pressing against every vital part of you. These unformed, raw liquid elements of creativity are packed tight with potential; even if no directed surge is shooting out, you KNOW that this energy is the GOOD stuff, the stuff that your best stories and artwork are made of. If you could just harness this unprocessed creativity, this pure, undiluted genius of the imagination, you’d have a bestseller, a world-changer, a revolution-sparker.
You find yourself staring at a blank page or monitor screen, hands quivering with the accumulated pressure of all this GREATNESS trying to burst through the tips, and if you could take a paring knife and slit your fingertips open to let the ideas flow free, you would…
…but you don’t, ’cause nothing would come out, anyway. Except maybe some blood. Ew.
Creative Constipation cannot be avoided, no matter how hard you try; if it hasn’t afflicted you yet, trust me â€“ it will soon enough. However, it CAN be dealt with, through a few simple exercises. Just like bran keeps Physical You regular, so can these three tricks keep your imagination from stopping up and clogging at the mouth of your consciousness.
Keep a notebook with you at ALL times. When Creative Constipation strikes, there is sometimes a very narrow window of opportunity, a momentary nexus of clarity that occurs at the precise moment of that creative urge’s catalytic spark. As soon as you find yourself feeling the urge to write/draw, whip out that notebook posthaste, and put down whatever it was that sparked the feeling, whatever that feeling is, and whatever’s coming out of that feeling.
It may not make ANY sense, and it may turn out to be nothing but crap after all, but it will at least get it out there before the clogging begins. And never forget that crap makes great fertilizer, and that the best fruits and flowers *need* crap to blossom and bloom.
Keep a notebook with you at ALL times. Yeah. It’s that important that I had to list it twice. Do something completely PHYSICAL. Sometimes, constipation occurs because the idea forming in your brain is so versatile that there are literally millions of possibilities as to how you could approach it. While this sounds like a great thing, it’s actually quite evil, because you will find yourself not being able to process these million possibilities in any logical form. In other words, you’ll be thinking TOO MUCH about it, and you won’t be able to make any headway.
When this happens, go do something completely physical â€“ play a sport, go running, do chores, have a naughty snugglefest with your favorite lust-monkey… When you’re exerting yourself physically, your brain will stop overthinking, and sometimes, your unconscious, instinctive self will actually start to play the process of elimination game until suddenly, POOF! You’ve found the perfect ONE outlet/direction for the idea.
These three solutions may not always work â€“ sometimes being stopped up just can’t be avoided. However, I guarantee you that it’s still worth a try. Until someone invents Draino for the Brain, Creative Constipation will plague us imaginative folks like, umm, like… errr…
Dammit. It’s on the tip of my tongue, and I know it’s a good one, too.
Where the hell’s my notebook? Or my wife??
Damonk is the Editor-in-Chief and the Executive Editor for Reviews and Columns.