Friday 19 July 2013

Creative Experiments for Stuck Places by Kate Wolfe-Jenson

Here you are, stuck again.

Maybe it’s a can’t-get-started stuckness. You have a squirmy hunger in your spine that’s pushing you forward into…you’re not sure what. Unable to define it, you try this and that. You read old journals. You dye your hair. You draw the cat. Whatever you are doing, you know that This is Not It. There is Something Else that you want – almost desperately – to be doing, but you can’t get started.

Maybe it’s an I-was-on-my-way-but-something-happened stuckness. You were in the midst of a project, in the groove, in the flow. Then something went >CLANG< and here you are, watching the days go by and not getting back to it. Dozens of small tasks seem to be eating up your time and The Big Want slides under the radar over and over.

What to do?

Take comfort.  This stuckness is a time-honored part of the creative path. In writing, we call it writer’s block, but many people experience it. That doesn’t make it feel any better, but at least you know you’re not alone.  The good news is thousands – probably millions – of people have made it through this stuckness. You can too.

Take action.  Your job right now is to TAKE ONE INCREDIBLY SMALL, RIDICULOUSLY TINY STEP toward The Big Want. We are talking about a step so small that it almost hurts not to do it.  One minute. One word. Dial the phone.

No, really: TAKE ACTION. It may seem like now is the perfect time to check Facebook, pay bills, groom the hamster or learn Farsi.


is not

the truth.

You just need to pick up your brush or your phone or your pen or whatever the next step in The Big Want is and take action. If you don’t know what the next step would be, make it up and take a step.

Here are some games (I call them “creative experiments”) you can play to help you unstick and take action.

  • Writing starters:  I hate being stuck because… I love being stuck because…
  • Making your Mark:   Use five colors to make the biggest mess you can in two minutes. Repeat five times.   
  • Objects in Space: Choose three very floppy objects and two very stiff ones. How would you arrange them to represent your stuckness? How would you get them unstuck?
  • Sound it Out: Sound stuck. Lubricate the sound until it comes loose.
  • So the Drama: Write or perform a dialogue between a block of ice and a birthday candle.
  • Move through it:  Put on fast rhythmic music and shake your whole body for five minutes.
Remember that the ultimate goal here is to take an eensy-weensy step toward The Big Want. Once you are moving (even tiny, slow moves), the universe will give you feedback. Maybe you will discover that you are moving in the wrong direction. No problem. Turning is good. Maybe the universe will grab you by the hand and whirl you into a dance. Yay! Either way: CONGRATULATIONS, you are unstuck!

Let me know how it goes…


Kate Wolfe-Jenson is the author of Dancing with Monsters: Chronic Illness as Creative Transformation. She blogs about creativity, spirituality and illness at Her monthly newsletters include ideas for creative experiments, practices and tools that invite you to play along.

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