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Let’s Talk: Brain Freeze

By Katie Veneziano

While I could most likely pen a rather eloquent essay regarding the atrocity that is a hasty consumption of frozen cream leading to the drastic cramping of – man, not worth it. Let’s talk about brain freeze.

It can mean a lot of things to different people depending on where they work. Chances are, most of the time you’ve heard it referred to as something along the lines of “writer’s block.” What is it, is it ok, and how do you deal with it either way?

Brain freeze is this sensation that feels like your brain is a keg and the last drop of that sweet, delicious nectar of IPA brewed in some guy in a flannel’s studio in Brooklyn has officially run dry. If you’re a writer, you don’t know any more than your character does about what’s going to happen to them next. If you’re an actor, you don’t know why your director keeps saying “dig deeper” and you can’t. If you’re a musician, think if it as mental dissonance. Regardless of the source of the paycheck, that internal cosmos going on inside of your head that normally sparks, swirls and bounces is suddenly more like that God awful commercial for depression where they represent it as a wind-up doll just going through the motions with no results.

When it hits, what is it a sign of? Weakness? Lack of creativity? Lack of dedication? Just…weakness? Do me a favor, go on YouTube and look up word-for-word: “NONONO Cat” – that’s my response, friend.

Brain freeze is absolutely an everyday part of being an artist.

Sometimes it lasts for a few seconds when you can’t decide which shade to paint with, other times it lasts for a few days when you can’t decide…which shade to paint with – do you see my point? Line 10 people up and give them the same problem, then tell them all to fix it. They’ll all try and do it, but they’ll go about it different ways.

The first step in dealing with it is admitting it’s ok. A multitude of artists hit that mental wall and then decide that means they need to give up as a result. They look at it as a flaw when it’s really just a part of the process.

Just because you sat down and wrote a song in three hours last week in one go, doesn’t mean the one you’re struggling with this week is any less important.

What happens if you gave up on that song; but if you stuck to it, it could have been your masterpiece?

That metaphor up there about the flannel-shirt guy in Brooklyn whose name by birth is probably “Michael” but he spells it “Mikael” – because he’s “trying to connect to his roots” – because he took an AncestryDNA test – after his friend who was born “Jeremy” who goes by “Jai” who owns a used bike shop in Williamsburg recommended it – so he found out he’s 3% Russian and now drinks Stolichnaya every weekend and pronounces it “wodka” in a wildly offensive accent as he doesn’t actually speak a word of Russian – isn’t the best metaphor. Your brain isn’t completely a keg (please see a doctor if so), it’s a muscle. Muscles need to be taken care of, and sometimes that includes resting them for a while when they’re overworked. Take the process for what it is – a process.

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