Stuckness

Being stuck is something I’ve been rather familiar with for quite a while. You might call it writer’s block or creative block. Stephen Pressfield calls it The Resistance in The War of Art. Seth Godin co-opted the same term in Linchpin.

I’ve blogged about stuckness at some length before on an old blog I used to maintain. It is something I still think about often and deal with every day.

Michael Hyatt has spoken about it a few times, characterizing The Resistance as “that thing that makes you organize your closet when you need to write,” or do any number of other things that keep you from moving forward on what you really need to be doing.

Mike points out some good techniques for dealing with “The Resistance,” but I want to share some things that have worked for me.

1. Take a break.

Sometimes you really do need to take a break and get your mind on something else. Have you ever been working hard on something, gotten up to use the restroom, and as you walk a brilliant idea comes into your head? Just stretching your legs, walking around, and getting your blood flowing can help you discover new ideas.

Also, doing something else can allow your mind to work on a problem subconsciously. Einstein famously remarked about getting new ideas while he was shaving. Shaving is routine and relatively boring. It doesn’t require much thought or effort. When your logic brain gets bored and goes to sleep, your creative brain is free to solve problems.

This is part of why warmups and rituals are so powerful. When I mix my paint colors, my logic brain takes a nap. Twenty minutes later I’ve finished mixing and prepping paint, and my creative brain is wide awake. Add some exciting music into the mix to get me moving back and forth, and I’m ready to go.

2. Make a lateral move.

This hinges on doing something else to allow your logic brain to go to sleep and your creative brain to go bananas, but it goes a little deeper than that. It’s not as rote or mindless. In fact, it may not be mindless at all, but require hard work and discipline without being routine. Personally, I’ve reinvigorated my painting efforts by taking photos with my mobile phone. Or you might find volunteering for a particular cause inspires new ideas.

For me, building a fort in the living room with my little girl and two toddler boys, hearing their stories and listening to their laughter does a lot to reinvigorate me. It has nothing to do with art or design and everything to do with regaining a sense of joy and adventure.

Your turn

How about you? How do you get yourself un-stuck?

Stuck leaf photo credit: Lazy_Artist via Compfight cc 
Creepy monkey photo credit: scragz via Compfight cc