“Writer’s Block”, Instrumental Music, and a Keyboard

Land of Symphony Avatar

Technically, I’m off of my second or third social media hiatus, but now that I’m back I’ll be online less than I was before and blogging more frequently. The negativity has really gotten to me, this time around, and in the past few weeks I have had a complete 180 in mood and all things. As an artist, I need silence, that freedom to not say but to listen, and the ability to create without an audience watching or I seeing them. I suppose this comes from my many years of being a performer, but you know? When I used to practice for hours on end, I didn’t need/want an audience, and I don’t need one now. All I need, is the room to practice, and thanks to a wondering, loving, and supportive group of friends and loved ones, I have that. Now, it’s up to me to make them proud.

Many things, with respect to my productivity, go back to the fact that I was a performer for a long period of time, primarily my formative years and in college with a few events that happened beyond that, including a rock opera. I’ve had jobs in the music industry, and I’ve also acquired a keyboard a while back, but I haven’t played regularly for a long, long time. For me, the piano is connected to a great deal of trauma, and I’ve been avoiding it and anything related to any kind of songwriting for a while–until I can’t anymore. I’m working on a song at the moment that’s connected to an… Well, let’s just say it’s a “big” story, and this tune won’t let me go.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been picking away at my office, to see what it is I actually have sitting around in boxes(1), and sorting some things for later.(2) This was done with the intent of possibly moving my office, but now I see I have a very clear space to set up my keyboard, and that will allow me to do something I haven’t done in a long, long time: practice. It is scary, for me, and I don’t think it’s something that can ever be explained to anyone else–nor do I want to. Not anymore. I’m not getting back into music because of my past, but because of my future. I don’t know if I’ll still be able to play blindfolded or with my hands behind my back–time will tell how long I can even play. But, this is the last piece in a series of dominoes for an artist’s recovery program I’m taking, and this is everything to me, because this is where my heart can be found(3).

Music is also the first thing I turned to after my initial two weeks of social media deprivation, to help rebuild the foundation and get things flowing again. This, I feel, is pretty important given that I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do think it’s as Kathy Steffen described: writer’s avoidance behavior. The block is an illusion, it’s a piece that we think is there because we’re specifically avoiding something, we’re shielding ourselves by saying there’s a physical object standing in our way preventing us from getting to whatever it is we need to. And yet, there are ways to power through it beyond motivation: deadlines, journaling, switching to another project, positive affirmations, visualizations, mini-art therapy, etc.

More than all of this, however, is the fact that music, either listening or performing, has always increased productivity for me on a number of levels. More, if the music doesn’t have any words associated with the song, as well. To me, music and animation are similar, in that there’s the creative aspect, but also the mathematical and logistical components required to breathe life into each piece. I may have mentioned this one before, but words are music to me, and certain words carry minor tones (e.g. if they have a negative connotation), and others major (e.g. positive). So, listening to classical or dub step or ambient or even drums fills my head, gives me something to focus on, and sometimes allows me to “see” the music that is happening. This last piece, setting up the keyboard and playing, is reconnecting a mechanism that has been missing for far too long, for a good, damn reason.

Like I said. Scary. But nothing good ever comes from giving into fear.

(1) Yes, my office could have been one of the parents’ from Coraline.
(2) Later, but not indefinitely. I hate filing more than splatterpunk, but it does feel like clearing out the cobwebs, to be sure.
(3) My cousin explained that the translation of a surname in our family tree means “music.” Appropriate!

    Mood: My cats are pretending to be Dickens-esque characters, ergo…
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I ADMIT NOTHING.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Considering I walked for six hours on Friday, my butt fell to the chair. Hard.
    In My Ears: Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Variation)
    Game Last Played: Tetris. Because Tetris.
    Book Last Read: I’m reading a book by Ursula Le Guin, but sadly I cannot remember the name of it since I just started.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Harry Potter series
    Latest Artistic Project: Gothic corsages. There shall be pics, later.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update and My Departure from the Conan RPG.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

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