Stuck, trapped, blocked, frozen, stumped.
There are unlimited ways for those unwanted adjectives to play out in our lives - and the degrees to which they affect us are just as abundant.
Today, I'm keeping in mind the scenario of a creative who gets stuck as they're creating a piece of work.
This happens to me most often when I'm trying to write an article for someone else or to produce content for one of my classes - and it hits particularly hard when there's a deadline attached.
Sound familiar? Here are some of my tactics for getting myself unstuck.
S is for ..... Step away from the ______When we find ourselves feeling the familiar signs of the discomfort of being stuck, it's time to disengage from whatever it is we're trying to do and go do something else.
Through my experience of Body Harmony with Lindsay, I've learned to tune into the subtle signals my body uses to tell me what I need at that particular time. And I've learned that it's never wrong!
If I'm struggling for too long fighting my inert creativity, my body responds pretty clearly. I'll start dancing in my seat to invisible ants in my pants. My back begins to talk to my shoulder and soon enough my wrist joins in until there's a cacophony of protest.
My brain has kept me on task, trying in vain to squeeze something out, but my body knows best. It's time to leave and come at it another time.
T is for ..... Turn it aroundQuite easy to make this literal when we're working on a painting. What about when we're writing?
Sometimes I begin to write a piece without knowing what I'm trying to say and despite typing away for what seems like (and often is) hours, the punchline fails to reveal itself.
I get so frustrated when this happens. No doubt there's a whole screed of stuff waiting to get ticked off my to-do's and if I don't get this finished, I'll miss the submission deadline.
This is the time for me to take a deep breath and believe that the words which just flowed from my fingers were in fact perfect. What is wrong is the order in which they came.
So I begin to move the paragraphs around in a different order, like pieces of a puzzle. It can take a wee while, but with patience, the narrative begins to come together and I can see my way through to a punchline.
The discarded paragraphs? I copy them into a 'bucket' document - they may just be waiting for the right narrative to come along.
U is for ..... Unravel the cluesThere is something to be said for digging a little deeper into our ... stuckness. It may be that there's more going on than we think, or that there's something else that we can't quite put your finger on, which is preventing us from moving forwards.
Asking questions may help us unravel the tangle of thread that will lead to the answers we need before we can proceed with this particular project.
Here are some questions I ask myself which often lead to to a quick resolution;
- Have you dunk enough water today? How about food?
- When was the last time you took a walk?
- Did you make your to-do list for the day? Was this project on it?
- Is there something else you've been meaning to do but haven't got around to, yet? Might it be time to go do that instead?
- Is this project something you really want to deliver? If it isn't, what are the implications if you don't complete? Can you live with that?
- Whose deadline are you working to? Can you ask for an extension? If it is your own deadline, might you be able to swap some things around to make it easier for you?
- Do you need to nap?
- What about starting over? How do you feel about taking a fresh stab at it - might that help?
- How are your emotions? Are you writing about anything that seems to be a trigger for you? What message do you think that holds for you right in this moment?
- When was the last time you made an art journal spread or got your art on? How about taking some time to do that before you return to your writing?
C is for ..... Call for helpThis is probably one of the tactics I use most often.
You see, I'm extremely blessed that my wee family works from home and each morning we meet over coffee to discuss 'business'. This is our opportunity to mark important dates in the diary and tell each other about our current projects.
It's also usually the time for us to talk about where we feel stuck or blocked. Most often, just by talking about it, we find that the problem is solved and our next step is clear. Isn't it true that talking out loud about being stuck unravels things more quickly than thinking about it inside your head?
Other times, it's what the others have to say that helps us figure out where to go next.
If I didn't have this ready source of wisdom to pull from, then I'd need to go and find one - it's part of the peril of working from home, that we don't get the chance to chat casually about the stuff we're working on.
Thankfully, for those of without a ready made team to hand, we have Skype and Google Hangouts to help keep us connected to other live souls out there in the same boat as ourselves!
K is for ..... Keep on goingSometimes there is nothing else for it than to just keep on keeping on.
I'm generally not one for torturing myself, but I also know that I'm easily distracted. Sometimes, it seems like I'm stuck only because I'm not properly focussed on the task in hand! Time to switch off the social media streams, the podcasts, music or (like right now, Wimbledon!) and just do it!
I also tend to give myself a lot of leeway when it comes to assigning a schedule for work. Because I take great delight in my flexible hours, it can often be mid morning and sometimes lunchtime before I actually sit down at my computer. This means that I can still be there in the evenings and often weekends.
It's easy to let that habit creep in even when I begin early in the morning. Being strict with my schedule can provide the discipline I need to just get on with it - otherwise I can stretch out the day and achieve no more than I would have done had I spent half the time on it.
What about you? Does any of that sound familiar? What are your top tips for becoming unstuck? We'd love for you to add them in the comments section below :)
Julie Gibbons enjoys art journaling, journal therapy and mixed media. Her passion is self discovery through intuitive, creative practice, to reveal personal patterns, symbolism & archetypes of the true self.
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