Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Getting Stuck

Day 19: the first day of NaBloPoMo that I don't have a plan for. I wanted to leave a few days open for whatever came up, which is much like how I blogged when I first started here. (That method got me 2-4 posts a week, so I must have had a lot to say!)

I still have a lot to say, but not enough to warrant a post about each of the little things on my mind--things like Thanksgiving plans, next year's vacation ideas, thoughts on gift-giving, changing goals, and the meaning of life. You know, basic stuff.

Instead, let's just talk about getting stuck. What do you do when inspiration/creativity isn't on your side? The way I see it, we have two options: push through or switch gears. The hard part is knowing which way to take and when.
mid-process in a creative project
Push Through
If I'm struggling with writer's block, but I know I'm close to getting the words out, I tend to just push through. Especially during first drafts--in that scenario it's more important to get something out on paper/computer screen, even if I end up deleting the whole thing during later revisions. It's easier to edit words than blank space.

Pushing through also helps me see what my creative limits are--how far can I go with the current state my brain is in? What else can I accomplish in this moment? I'm reminded of late nights at school when I had to push through because a paper was due the next morning. Sometimes this process worked in my favor. Other times...not so much. That's when I needed to step away.

Switch Gears
As long as there's time during a creative project, switching gears can be the best course of action. When I'm stuck on what to post, or how to write a post, or when I can't figure out any sort of problem (coordinating my day at work, tackling a tough house project), I do something not related to my problem. I shower, clean, or go for a walk. I do something that I can do without really thinking, like grocery shop or laundry, and let the problem simmer for a bit. Most times, my brain will keep working on the problem while my body goes in a different direction. When I come back to the project, I'll have a new perspective (or at the very least, fresh eyes).

Basically all of my post ideas come from somewhere other than at the table with a New Post window open. Probably about 85% come while I'm riding my bike to work or driving around doing errands, which is kind of distracting because I want to write them down immediately before they go floating away. The rest come during meal-making, internet-browsing, reading, and in those hazy moments right before I fall asleep (those get forgotten 100% of the time before I wake up, which sucks because I'm pretty sure they're my best ideas).

Other ways of switching gears include listening to different music, getting a good stretch in, or taking a snack break. Mmmm...I'm always about snack breaks (I went and got a bowl of salsa before writing this conclusion). What do you guys do to stay fresh?

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