Thursday, September 6, 2018

Writer’s Block and Art

By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine

A couple of years ago, I interviewed a local artist for a newspaper article. When I sat at my computer to finish the assignment, I had writer’s block and couldn’t put words together to produce a readable piece. While looking at her paintings shown on the artist’s website, I remembered how many times I broke through my writer’s block with the help of art. It started with an art appreciation class that I took at the University of Memphis. I had never studied much classical art—or modern art either, for that matter. A graduate student taught the class which was geared towards non-art majors picking up optional credits.

One week, I had two writing assignments due in other classes. I also had to tour a local gallery and answer a few questions about certain pieces of art selected by the professor. I tried to finish my writing assignments first, not wanting to get behind in any classes in my major. I took paper and pen to my quiet work space and to the backyard. I tried writing in the library and in the student center. No words flowed at all.

I gave up and headed to the art gallery. I answered the required questions in front of a colorful painting full of waterfalls and birds and foliage and wildlife. My mind started dreaming up scenarios in which photographers explored the area or conservationists preserved the scene. I wondered what sat just out of view of the canvas.

I took out my paper and jotted down notes about adventurers and writers and photographers. The ideas from this one painting seemed endless. While in the gallery, I decided to write a few notes for my upcoming papers. Ideas for those topics began to flow easily.

Later, when I attended Emory University to work on my M. Div., I rode the MARTA rails to the High Museum of Art, especially on afternoons when I could get in free. I worked on my hardest papers in front of paintings, sculptures, or photography. The art opened my mind. It released the words again. 

Creativity inspired creativity. It still works for me.

Be inspired by the works of others…

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