On creating, cloning, and writer’s block
Oh my gosh, that feeling when I start a fresh Pages document.
When I start a fresh Pages document and don’t have an assignment. No attached word count. No prewritten headline. No homepage slot waiting for it. No editor tapping his toes, wondering when I’ll file, perhaps hoping I won’t so he can get out of the office at a decent hour, maybe go to dinner on a weeknight for once.
When I start a fresh Pages document and see white, glorious white, and have my choice of fonts, a little something happens. And then I crank my font size up to twenty-five, because I want to see my words extra large, billboard-big, dancing across that white. Heck, sometimes I bold them, and it feels silly to admit that, but I bold them, just for fun.
The miracle that happens, and here’s where I should tell you I’m not a “miracle” believer; I didn’t buy that “Heaven is real” cover story (though neither did anyone else) and I only seem to believe in the divine when it’s convenient, selfish as that may sound; but the miracle that happens is absolute and irrefutable.
Every cell in my body aligns itself towards that page and stands at attention.
Then they ask me, “What’s next?”
And I have an answer. Or more like a polite wish. I ask them to write something real, something that makes them throb or buzz or hum or sing or shout or cry or crack straight open.
The other miracle is, they listen. Sometimes.
And I think that’s what makes the act of writing so bizarre. It's mysterious and full of cajoling or seducing or straight-up manhandling. Writers, somehow, find new words every day. But then builders, somehow, build something new every day, too. And creators, somehow, create something new every single day.
Now, out of restlessness or inspiration or some form of farsighted conviction, I’m trying to get more clever at arranging my own words. Into scripts, dialogue, poetry, short stories, long stories, essays, song lyrics, this post, etc.
I do not ask my words to arrange themselves into an Aaron Sorkin script or a Mary Oliver poem or a John Updike short story or a Paul Theroux narrative or a Liz Gilbert article or a Billboard No. 1 hit song by the mystical creature known as Sia. I already own and watch and stream all of those things, and I am not looking for clones.
Clones are terribly boring.
And I do not ask them to be good words, either. Or to be wise or clever or thoughtful. I only ask them to be written because the act itself is what settles my soul.
No one has a well of ideas. There is no well because there is no bottom. This is my conviction, and my hope, actually, that you, too, can find what makes your cells stand at attention every day. It’s that thing as limitless and bright and inescapable as the sun’s reach.
Step into that space and bask. You may get burnt, but I promise that you will never, ever be bored.