Blocked - Dave Sweeney

I used to think there was no such thing as writer’s block, but it's been months since I actually wrote a song lyric, poem or review that I'm even half happy with. There are so many ideas in my head that never quite make that leap into full fruition. I avoid making commitments to avoid the stress of not being able to fulfill them. I worry constantly that I am failing and then am surprised when I fail, or fail to even try.

I could offer a whole host of reasons but the main one is sheer social anxiety. This year I have rarely left the warm cocoon of my flat unless I had to for work. If I go shopping I use the self service tills so human interaction is minimal or completely absent. Speaking to strangers fills me with fear. Just being around people I know can feel very intimidating. Doing things I enjoy can make me feel frightened. People telling me I'm talented doesn't convince me that I have talent. There's an almost constant nagging doubt that every minuscule choice I make will be the wrong one somehow, even as my logical brain tells me that there rarely is a right or wrong choice. Doing nothing seems safe until I realise I am isolating myself, despite knowing there are people who can and do accept me at my most vulnerable.

On the worst days even the friendliest faces have me retreating into a quagmire of self doubt. I avoid performing in public because that entails interaction with human beings. Familiar songs feel lacklustre and I compare myself negatively against other artists on the bill. I listen to music for inspiration, but my recording attempts never seem inspiring. When I listen to others I hear beauty and feel I can replicate it then my attempts always seem lacking somehow. I understand this is part of my condition, I am my own harshest critic and my greatest achievements will be remembered most by the inevitable flaws. One of the hardest things to believe in is myself. If I've met you face to face and spoken to you then I was feeling very brave that day. This pretty much applies to everyone except my very closest of friends.

Perhaps everyone feels this way and we're all just too scared to say so. Admitting that as an adult you feel fear is to admit weakness and the law of the jungle states you don't do that. You’d think with all this avoiding people and spending hours in an ever expanding home studio there would be something to show for those secluded months. Depression and self loathing don't work that way, and a mountain of discarded creativity later I find myself still basically staring at an empty page. An infinity of ideas bounces round my head and the best I can salvage from them is a work in progress. I read back over what I've written and realise my blank page is filled. I'm only ever one idea away from the next great song or a poem that works or a finished article on how it feels to be a musician that isn't making much music at the moment. The best thing about writer’s block is knowing it eventually fades and the creativity finds an outlet. There will always be times I am brave enough to step outside and express myself. Slowly I can start to feel less scared.

Like many creative people I am a little bit broken and searching for my niche in a confusing world. Music is my blessing and also my curse but I couldn't live without it.