What do you do when you get stuck?
I have been here again lately, trying to figure out what to write about.
I did a content plan for the whole year at the start January, and really appreciated the clarity and sense of direction that it offered – but sometimes you just can’t find your way in to the title, or the subject matter.
It’s not that each of those potential titles don’t hold any ideas for me – far from it, I am always full of ideas ( sometimes that can be a whole problem of it’s own!) –
but getting a handle on the crux of what I am trying to say, has evaded me.
Because feeling stuck is almost always about a lack of clarity.
Those ‘who, what, why, where and when’ questions don’t seem to have clear answers.
Who am I writing/speaking to?
Well, yes, you my lovely reader, but who are you, what are your current needs and struggles, what are your successes? Am I clear in my own mind as I put fingers to keys?
What am I trying to say? What question am I trying to answer?
Where in the process are we currently, and where are we headed?
Why am I keen to answer you?
Why do I need to step in with some thoughts?
When should I speak, when should I stay silent?
Because sometimes the timing simply isn’t right, and the wisest thing is to pause, reflect some more and wait, until whatever should be said, really needs to be said, and crucially, is ready to be heard.
Can you relate to this?
Because it applies to so much more than writing a blog – these questions are relevant to many areas of life, such as our job choices, family direction, relationships and faith.
Whenever we are stuck, these questions can be relied upon, to pop up, clamouring to be answered. And those answers are not always forthcoming
So what can we do?
I guess that will depend slightly on the circumstances. But here are some things which usually help:
- Change the scene and move your body.
Sometimes when we are in the thick of a frustrating situation, whether creatively or personally, we are simply unable to see the wood for the trees, so going somewhere different can help.
Getting outside somewhere on your own, for a walk and a rant (aloud to God, if you’re like me) about what is frustrating you, can really shake things up.
Our bodies and our mind, will and emotions are all inextricably linked, therefore when we are stuck in one rhythm mentally, the act of changing our physical rhythm can make a massive difference.
When I’m working on a piece of text for performance, I will often pace about, or try skipping, running on the spot, jumping, or dancing around the room – whilst still speaking the text aloud. This is particularly helpful if it something written with heightened language, such as Shakespeare, or a poem with a strong rhyme scheme, because it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the dominant ‘tune’ of the piece. However, by moving in a different, more vigorous way as I rehearse, I find my focus shifts from my struggle to get it right, on to what my body is doing, and I subsequently relax about the text, making new discoveries and finding new insight.
I’d recommend this practice for anyone…
Put on a bouncy, energetic piece of music and dance around the room for 5-10 minutes, choosing not to worry about how daft you look or feel. Because even if it doesn’t help you solve the immediate problem, it will have got your blood flowing, sent more oxygen to your brain and you will feel more alive and hopeful.
- Try another perspective.
Sometimes literally changing your perspective – sitting atop a climbing frame or tree, hanging upside down off the end of your bed, lying on your back and looking up at the sky or ceiling – can help you see things more clearly.
Equally, putting yourself in the position of someone else and really trying to consider the problem from their point of view can help two-fold:
a) It takes the pressure off you to find a solution, by taking your eyes off yourself for a little while (it’s really not about me after all, I’m not actually at the centre of the universe).
b) You might not have sufficiently considered how the solution will impact someone else, and by doing so, you may find new ideas float to your mind about how to more fully serve them.
Win – Win.
- Feed yourself!
Nourishing yourself with actual food, rest and company are vital.
Sometimes this means resting when you want to push on, because your body needs a break.
Eat actual food which blesses your system and brings you joy rather than simply filling a hole or being basic level fuel.
Go out and spend some quality time with friends, people you love and trust – and just have fun!
Put the problem aside for a while to be playful and silly – trust me this helps.
Plus, just like a shy thought you are desperately trying to remember, ideas often occur when we aren’t looking directly at them.
But also nourish your creativity!
Who and what are you listening to, what are you viewing and where are you currently drawing inspiration? If nowhere, then go in search of something, but if you have got stuck in a rut, then shake things up and try something completely different.
New input will eventually lead to new output.
I have been listening to Hamilton loads lately, and I know that as a result, my ear has become more finely tuned to rhyme and rhythms of wordplay, which has in turn enhanced some of my writing projects.
- Turn ‘being stuck’ into a positive.
This might sound crazy, but sometimes accepting where you are is half the battle.
Not being in a hurry to escape something difficult or seemingly barren, can an opportunity to lean in, to discover more about your discomfort and why you might be there. It can bring you insight of a different kind, and even become the springboard for something.
Maybe you need to learn something more in this season before you move on? Perhaps the enforced slow-down will offer you a chance to re-define your values, or maybe it’ll become a turning point for your life, and in time, be a source of joy or help to others who find themselves in a similar situation.
I know that I started this week with no idea what to write about. I have been feeling stuck and confused about a variety of things, and it wasn’t until about half an hour before I headed up to our office to write this post, that I had any ideas. And I’ve turned my stuck place into an opportunity to say something which will hopefully help you, or someone you know.
Sometimes being stuck for a while, can be the key to deeper insight, leading to an opportunity for greater freedom.Tweet
Above all, don’t underestimate the value of pause.
It gives you time to let things float to the surface.
And equally, don’t be afraid of leaning in to the discomfort, trying to let it speak to you and bring you insight.
When we keep showing up – even if confused – willing to try and be present to the moment, the relationship or the words… when we continue to plod, simply putting one foot in front of the other in a direction of hope, even when we have no idea where we might be heading, solutions and new paths will present themselves in time – we just need to be willing to stay the course.