… from a letter artist Sol Lewitt sent to his blocked artist friend Eva Hesse:
It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it, though.) You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck you” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling*, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose striking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself.
Stop it and just
Do more, more nonsensical, more crazy … whatever — make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor”. You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world; if you fear, make it work for you – draw and paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to
Try to do some BAD work. The worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to
Read the actual letter here.
Thinking of creative pursuits as something you “do” instead of something you “work at” helps me. Pick up the pen and just write. Write out the alphabet until you have an idea, as Lynda Barry suggests in What It Is. Pick up the brush and start painting. Pick up the guitar and start strumming. Pick up the origami paper and start folding or whatever it is. You don’t have to “work hard” at it. You just do it. Repeatedly.
* I like the word “scumbling”.