Brain Food #479

The way out is through

Thoughts of the day

After a short hiatus, Brain Food is back.

Naturally, I spent some time thinking about creative block. During creative blocks, it is not that the ideas do not arrive; it is that none of them seem exciting, or worthwhile enough to write about. Following Bukowski’s advice, “writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all”, I researched respected creators who, at one point or another, faced a drought in their output.

The revelation of the research was that most makers were intimidated not by the concept of making itself, but by the potential lack of quality in the end result. And then the thought occurred, that it is a sense of perfectionism coupled with intense self-criticism that will prevent us from ever progressing.

Thankfully, there is no ‘well of creativity’ that goes dry. The mind never stops, and the stimuli offered by the world are infinite. As with everything, one just needs to start or, in some cases, to begin again. But a little break never hurt anyone.


Some quotes from accomplished writers who confessed, in letters or diaries, their very own struggle with writer’s block:

“And I ought to be writing Jacob’s Room; and I can’t, and instead I shall write down the reason why I can’t—this diary being a kindly blankfaced old confidante. Well, you see, I’m a failure as a writer. I’m out of fashion: old: shan’t do any better: have no headpiece: the spring is everywhere: my book out (prematurely) and nipped, a damp firework.”

— Virginia Woolf

“The old incapacity. Hardly ten days interrupted in my writing and already cast aside. Once again prodigious efforts stand before me. You have to dive down, as it were, and sink more rapidly than which sinks in advance of you.”

— Franz Kafka

“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

— Jennifer Egan

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too,”

— Isabel Allende


If you were forwarded this email and you'd like to receive more, you can sign up and receive it daily in your inbox.

And if you love Brain Food and want the world to know about it, feel free to share it with them.

Share Brain Food

If you have any questions, thoughts, ideas you'd like to share, just hit reply.

Read longer Brain Food musings on Medium.