Getting to Work or Waiting for Creativity?

Black Haired Guy thinks about what is more important: creativity or determination and hard work?

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Sometimes you hold a certain set of beliefs about the world and upon inspection realize that they’re contradictory.  Both views sound good enough to be taken as fact but together they don’t make any sense. I’ve recent ran into a set of these contradictions upon thinking about goals, success, and “getting somewhere” in regards to long-term dreams. I want to be a writer, a blogger, or something along those lines. As you can guess these take a certain about of blatant creativity as well as dedication to keep working on goals and remain determined. On one hand I believe in the “sacredness” of creativity and how you simply can’t force it. In the strictest sense if you have no ideas for a story or a song (or whatever artwork you do) and you sit down and try to “force it” I think it will turn out to be shit. Like if I forced myself to write a blog post without having any inspiration behind it it will be shit. Take this for an example. I’ve been thinking of this topic for a week or two and I’m not “forcing it.” My other mantra is something about hard work being required to get somewhere, and not just hard work but that determined focus on goals and an insatiable appetite for working towards them. Trying to do anything means getting shit on over and over again and this requires some determination to keep going despite the shit. Taken separately they sound pretty good and I can give examples for both. But taken together? “You can’t force creativity but you need to fucking keep going and remain determined.” What?

That leads to some really shitty times where you’re sitting down wanting to write a story or a blog but not being inspired to write. You end up sitting there and staring at the computer or paper and just getting angry. According to my first mantra if you’re in this state you shouldn’t sit down and try to write some uninspired bullshit because it will suck. Obviously if you have an idea then you need to work on it but what the hell do you do if you aren’t inspired? Force yourself to write shit?

I think what started me thinking about this was some Stephen King quote about writer’s block being bullshit, or was it Jerry Seinfeld? Fuck. I’ll try to find it now…

Fun fact: it’s both. Seinfeld said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread that “Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.” and Stephen King said that “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” They meant that, yes, there will be times where things don’t come easy with art where you aren’t inspired but that it is no excuse: the second mantra of hard work and determination is more important that being inspired. They use the term “writer’s block” but we know what that means; it means not being inspired. Confronted with that information from actual successful people who are considered experts I’m inclined to nearly abandon the first mantra of creativity not being able to be forced. I suppose I still think of it that way, but you can’t just sit around and wait to be inspired. Perhaps by working on something you will get your mind active and thinking of ways to be creative. Either way it seems the “hard work” part is more important and must outweigh sitting around waiting to be inspired.

Have a blockquote too. I never get to use them.

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.

-Stephen King

It’s Been Awhile…

Black Haired Guy reflects on the state of his derelict blog.

It’s been nearly six months (or so?) since I wrote my last post on here, and it was sort of an easy post to just toss out there; it was something fairly safe and typical. And I haven’t written a damn thing for this blog since. It makes me feel kind of sad looking back on it, as apparently I have quite a few followers and have had quite a bit of views; things were actually starting to look up for me on here and it’s sad to see how I’ve let it all sort of drift away and fall apart, especially since it was my first attempt at blogging. But maybe all of that negativity isn’t actually necessary quite yet.

What really happened was I started a new blog titled Everything Sucks that is over at the wonderfully titled everythingsucks.blog ( I put the effort into an actual domain name!). I finally figured out a theme I could run with that sounded good, and could churn out post after post that were all related to a common theme: everything in life sucking. You see, this blog here, theblackhairedguy, was my first blog and was meant as an experiment; as you all know, you need to start every journey somewhere and starting is always an awkward and painful experience. And so that’s what this blog is. Like I said in the about page, I never had much of a plan and always intended to work things out as I went along, and that’s exactly what I did. Many of these posts had a common theme — a sort of reflection on many various facets of life — and while they varied quite a bit, I think there was still something underlying them all, even if I can’t exactly put it into words.

As I said, I have this new blog over at Everything Sucks and I think it is a much more professional job and that things are tidier over there. I even have set banners for blog posts! I’m working from a single theme — everything sucking — and this naturally keeps things coherent as all posts must be from a certain point of view. Check it out and follow if you’re interested! Despite this project that I’m proud of, there are some things I write that are more reflective than statements about life and how it sucks…like sometimes you need to just think aloud write about things instead of always trying to prove a point. There seems to be certain things I write that seem to fit this blog’s perspective on things rather than showing how they suck, and while they do suck, I tend to think that this might be a more introspective blog than Everything Sucks, and that they may be able to coexist.

My main problem is that of time; it’s hard to focus on two blogs as well as the bunch of other random shit I do in my life. But coming back on here has left me with a realization that I have plenty to write about on here away from the purposeful pessimism of Everything Sucks. While I’m not promising anything, I might have to start posting some things on here again. And if you happen to read this, well, thanks for taking the time, especially since it’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve posted.

Writing as a Reflection

I truly believe that art in its most basic and general form is a window to the soul. The mere act of creating something, even if it is mundane like “creating” a freshly-mowed yard, shows the world something about yourself. This happens outside things that are usually considered the arts; I feel the only requirement for art is some form of creative input. This means creativity is in all walks of life, and you could consider many things art. And these things all say something about the person who created them.

I do think some forms of art are more obvious windows into the artist’s soul while others are more abstract – like a foggy window – that partly reflects upon the one viewing the art. Mowing the yard probably doesn’t reflect too strongly on what sort of person you are even though hints of it are present. Maybe you mow the yard in a messy fashion showing that you’re a messy and scattered person. Maybe you mow in complex geometric patterns? I’d bet your artwork would reflect the same tendencies. The visual arts and music are closer to pure art, and while they do reflect upon the soul, they don’t do it with as much clarity as writing seems to do. Even if they do, they offer much more abstraction that can make the message difficult to see and interpret. Writing seems to get down to the nitty-gritty of the soul, and that is what makes it unique.

Music does say something about the musician, but it has a chance to not be a pure form of expression. A person with only their instrument is likely the most obvious and pure form, and still this has it’s own flaws. Music is universal, but how you put all the elements together can be very subtle, complex, and not immediately obvious to what the musician is thinking or feeling. There is a lot of self-interpretation which by letting the listener’s own soul reflect back through the music can be seen as a strength of the medium. Art can still be good even if it doesn’t directly show anything about the creator of the art and this self-reflection is what makes music great. Music can also suffer from having multiple people making a single piece of artwork be it a song, an album, or whatever. This will naturally dilute the picture of the single musician into a collective, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just different.

The visual arts, by having a single artist create a work (usually), is a bit closer to writing. It still has the abstraction that music does, possibly even more. You can look at a painting or drawing and draw some conclusions about the artist or their interests, but you probably can’t get a complete picture about how their brains operate. Color, texture, composition, and subject matter are complex in how they play together (akin to the complexities of music), and it doesn’t allow for an easy reflection on the artist. You can tell Van Gogh was tortured inside, but as to why you can’t really tell by the works of art alone. Maybe you could tell, but it would take a bit more thought and observation. Art’s strength seems to be in having a single artist do the creating and the visual elements that can be inspected.

Writing is a much more direct reflection on the artist than the previous two I’ve mentioned. Since I’ve started writing I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s strange because you’d think that a person should know themselves more than anyone else, but by writing I’ve realized there are things subconsciously that I didn’t know existed. I used to draw and to play music, but I never really discovered anything deep within myself. Or if I did, I already had an idea of what existed although it wasn’t very clear and specific. Writing seems to be a totally different beast allowing for intense introspection.

My writing so far seems to have undercurrents to them that tie all of the stories together. It’s interesting how a person can write 5 or 6 stories and during the writing process think, “Wow, I really write about that topic a lot. That’s strange.” It can only be a reflection of what is on the inside. For example, my last story, “A Comfy Sunday,” was about a fly that pissed off the protagonist and led to him destroying his perfect day. What is the theme there? To me, it is how a single thing can completely change your day and your life. You can call it the fly or the person’s anger which he has no control over. That’s the key point: things can happen that affect your life, and other’s lives, and no one has any control over them. A single fly can ruin your day; it’s a sad fact of daily existence although most cases aren’t that dramatic. Incidents that alter your day, and your life, happen thousands of times a day. What if you left for work a minute late and that led to a car accident that paralyzed you? The world is like a giant, complex machine that seems to be a dice-roll to everyone due to it’s complexity. I love exploring the idea of chance, or fate, and how it plays a part in everyone’s lives. I didn’t really know this until I started to write. I also noticed that all of my stories seem to feature alcohol. If that isn’t a huge red-flag warning sign about alcoholism I don’t know what is. It’s shocking to read what you’ve written and to see what you dwell on. It’s like looking in a mirror that shows what on the inside.

I love writing, and as fun as it is creating things with words it’s strange to see how this reflects on the author. I’ve noticed this in other writers and other artists in general. I don’t see how you can write and not subconsciously reflect what is inside your own mind. And if you do, it seems like it would cheapen the writing to an extent, but I’m no expert on it. Or maybe if you can escape from the prison that is your mind you can really blossom as a writer? This seems to exist in other forms of art, although I think it isn’t quite as noticeable as in writing. There are things about music and the visual arts that reflect on the artist, but they seem to be more abstract reflections that are more open to interpretation to others. These are not flaws in the other mediums, just difference that anyone should appreciate. Think of the artists, musicians, and writers you’re a fan of. Think of the ones you personally know. What do their works say about them?