[The shadow] is a force that accumulates when you fail to honor your gifts, follow the call of your muses, or live up to your principles and ideals. Christopher Vogler, The Writers Journey Most of us who write run into a wall sometimes---- there are exceptions, but I don't think I know any of those lucky ducks. Sometimes you have to honor the wall--- let things be for a while until something opens up and lends direction to your work. Other times, well, some of those other times it seems easy to take that wall and build three more and a roof to box ourselves in and keep the light of creativity out.
Vogler calls writer's block The Shadow. A one word graphic description of those forces we all battle, whether we are writers, artists, sales clerks or professors. He goes on to say that the Shadow casts doubts upon our abilities and is a powerful sabatuer.
I like to play with the concept of Shadow, whether in stories of heroic journeys or profiles of criminals. I spend a great deal of time reading mysteries, usually British crime novels (I am working my way through Ian Rankin's work at the moment). At some point along the spectrum of growing up we must lose our innocence and our naive view of the world and what life will bring and grapple with the Shadow. Somewhere in my late twenties I complained to my husband, 'no one told us how hard it would be." ' It' being the expectations and responsibilities of adult life, the bills that had to be paid, the children that needed raising, the million compromises we make and the dreams we sometimes have to let go in order to enter into our own next stage on our journey.
I don't think any of us can successfully avoid the shadows that are part of life, and the more we pretend to be naive and uncorrupted, the bigger that shadow will grow. I am more often than not in some stage of writer's block--- in part because I edit words in my head before they dare appear on the page. I know I am very susceptible to the whisperings of the shadow that tell me to give it up, don't try, let it go, but then I am bothered by the sense of work left undone, words and stories lying dormant in my soul just waiting to be born.
I've been working on a novel, on and off, for several months now. Just when I uncover a deep secret of my main character, my writing is pulled up short. Oh, jeez, some childish part of me complains, I have to dig deep, go into the dark tunnel, explore the pain and the betrayal and the anger and come out of that with words that will make my audience keep turning pages.
I invite you who are writers or artists of any kind ( I am quite liberal in my definition of artist) to share some of your struggles with writer's block or, The Shadow. Please comment and let's get a lively discussion going.