Episode 022 | 3 Things You Can Do When You’re Stuck
For the last three weeks, we’ve been looking at the array of fiction opportunities available to you: from the 6-word story to the million plus-word serialized fiction that shows up online and everything in between. Even with all that opportunity (or maybe because of it), you may be feeling a little frozen in place. Whether you’re just feeling a little sluggish or you’re full-on “deer in headlights,” here are a few tricks to try to get things moving again.
1Picture Your the Process and the Outcome -Knowing what you want and why you want it is the foundation on which everything is built.
“[Studies show] that focusing on attaining your goal–as opposed to the effort it will take to succeed–will increase your chances of failure. In one study, researchers at the University of California asked one group of students to visualize themselves getting a great grade on an exam. They asked another group to visualize themselves studying for the exam. The students who visualized themselves getting a good grade scored lower on the test than the students who visualized themselves studying. Students who visualized themselves studying put more time into preparing for the test and ultimately, they scored much better. That’s just one example. There are a multitude of studies that show athletes, students, and musicians perform worse when they visualize themselves succeeding, as opposed to visualizing themselves going through the steps it takes to succeed. –Why Vision Boards Don’t Work (And What You Should Do Instead) by Amy Morin
Try These 5 Minute Exercises:
Set a Timer and Freewrite: Remind yourself of what you hope to accomplish and why you decided to undertake this process in the first place. Remind yourself of how you like to write: When? Where? Using what tools? No matter what you do, don’t stop writing. You may find that you answer to what’s been blocking you will come out of your subconscious.
Take 5 Minutes and Visualize Yourself Writing. Where are you? What are you using to write? What materials are at hand? You might find that you’re either missing some key piece that will help you get in the writing zone or that there’s something that’s posing as an obstacle to getting in the flow.
2 Choose the Smallest Task – Now that you’ve taken a pause to examine what process and outcome you would ideally like to have, look for the smallest task that will move you in that direction. Small victories can serve to “prime the pump,” creatively speaking, making way for the completion of bigger tasks. Or as Eric Knabel said in his interview, “There’s a lot of power in taking small steps.”
Try These 5 Minute Exercises:
Set a Timer and Braindump: Write down absolutely everything that’s on your mental writing to-do list. Again, do this without stopping. Once you have a list, grab some highlighters and sort your tasks on your list by size. Pick a task that looks doable, easy even, and knock it out. And then do another one.
Design the Writing Version of a “Couch to 5K” Type Program for Yourself. Think of it like getting back in shape after being a little too cozy with the couch. If you’ve ever done anything akin to a “Couch to 5K” program, you know that they always have you start small: walking vs. running and short distances vs. long ones. Also, there’s a reason that there are a million “Couch to 5K” programs and not “Couch to Ultramarathon programs.” Baby steps are still forward momentum and a heck of a lot better than being stuck. Start with smaller goals, little tasks and then build up to your bigger projects.
Listen to Episode 002 | Oh, ROMEO. Fall in Love with Your Writing to Get Your Projects Under Control and see if that helps you to identify the tasks that will get you going.
3 Put It On Your Calendar – Think of your undone work as clutter. It’s probably cluttering up your spirit with worry and frustration. Materials associated with your work are probably literally cluttering up your workspace. Both of these situations can make it that much harder to sit down and get to work on your writing. If you think of your blocks of time as little storage units for the things you want to have/keep in your life, then you can examine what’s sitting on the time slot “shelves” of your day. Make sure that the writing work that is important to you has a designated, recurring spot in your life by making sure it has a place in your calendar. Just knowing that you have a regular time set aside to do your work can help revive the muse. It solves the “someday is not a day of the week” situation and takes the pressure off any one writing session. Today didn’t go that great? No big deal. Next time will be better.
Try These 5 Minute Exercises:
Find a Regular Rendezvous Spot for You and Your Muse. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “What gets measured, gets done.” A corollary of that is “What gets scheduled, gets done.” Can you find 1-3 recurring times when you can work on your project most weeks? Look at your schedule and see where you can carve out predictable times to work so your muse will know when/where to show up. If it’s simply not possible to predict from day to day, then make a commitment to yourself that every day you will figure out when you can write that day, even if it’s for a few minutes here and there. Figure out how you’re going to carve out space for your writing, even if it’s on the fly.
Look for Places Where You Can Free up more time. For ideas on how to do that, check out Episode 009 | A Good IDEA for Finding More Time to Write.
Just keep at it! National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner. Next month will be “Preptober.” In every episode, we’ll be discussing different tools, hacks, and systems to prepare you for November’s challenge!
Until then, happy writing. people!
3 Things To Do When Your’e Feeling Stuck by Claire Mitchell
Feel Stuck in a Rut? Do These 3 Things by Kat Boogaard