There is a wonderful dream sequence in Fellini's 8 1/2 in which the inspiration-troubled director Guido has to face a multitude of questions and comments by obnoxious journalists hungry for news and information about his latest, abandoned film project. Guido cannot take the pressure anymore and seeks refuge under the table. There is a close-up of a mad woman with a diabolical laugh who shouts in English the sarcastic words that are deeply piercing to any self-respecting artist in the world: “He has nothing to say.”
First off, writer's block is a serious condition. It is the mental equivalent of having a leg cramp. Sometimes worse, it is a broken leg. The same way, your employer cannot expect you to go to work in such a condition, you won't be able to get writing done when afflicted with this serious ailment. It basically feels like you are drowning in a wide open ocean and find nothing, no floating wood, not even a straw to hold onto. It is every writer's nightmare, and each of us will have it as regularly as the seasonal flu.
But there is a deeper problem, and this may secretly nag in the entrails of any artist with serious literary or artistic aims and ambitions. It may pop up at unexpected times: Am I original? Or, to put in a more direct and harsher way: Am I relevant?
They say that everything has already been said. Nothing can be truly original anymore. Ideas have been out there since Plato and have found expression; you may think you have come up with it, but guess what, somebody has already beaten you to it. This may also explain the feeling of paranoia in some writers who guard and shield their work as if it were a religious relic. Ideas can be truly valuable and may be stolen the same way a thief robs you of money.
It is also why many writers may fear the Internet for those reasons. The Internet is growing at the speed of light. There are literally millions upon millions of blogs and articles swarming through cyberspace. Whatever I may blog about has been done a million of times before, and it is all accessible at a simple click of the mouse. It is equally exhilarating and frightening.
The Internet is also where thieves and hackers roam. They prey upon what you do, steal your ideas, sometimes even your identity. They present your ideas as their own. They maybe even sell it and make a profit, while you are struggling on a day-to-day basis as a starving writer. All this is not fair, not only because they are using someone else's work, but because they have not experienced the labor and pain associated with creation, the sleepless days and nights and the deeply disturbing impotent feeling of writer's block.
Apart from all those concerns and ideas and the competition writers experience with one another, we give ourselves an occasional hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether we have what it takes. Blogs are truly artistic and non-commercial in the sense that you are your own boss, that you do not have to follow an editor's or publisher's guidelines, but at the same time, you become fully responsible for your material. It also brings with it anguish and feelings of insecurity. Is it good enough? And will people actually read my blog? What do you think?
Personally, I find it very difficult to know which of my articles will “succeed.” By success, I mean popularity. There have been so many “surprises” that it becomes confusing at times. Sometimes I think I have written a pretty decent article, only to find out that it has only one or two views per month. Others that have barely made the “cut” get a rush of visitors. It is often hard to be objective and accurately judge how good or relevant your own personal piece of work is and what impact it may have.
Perhaps it comes down to the following two viewpoints. One, write what you are truly passionate about, something that resonates within you, that you find deep and meaningful and want to share with others. Two, you will have to deal with the fact that, like Sartre claims, you are the object reflected in other people's eyes. That's what being a social animal entails. People will raise you to the heavens or rip you apart, or even raise you to heavens to rip you apart. They will make you believe you are a true artist or will let you know in unequivocal words or shrill diabolical laughter underlining their superiority and control over you: “He has nothing to say.”