I remember one day, I was struggling with a writing project. I was working on a section of a book, and I was stuck. I didn’t really have a clear direction for where I was going, and I didn’t know what I wanted to say. So, as you might expect, I was making very little progress.
As the day went on, I became more and more frustrated and anxious. After a few hours of work, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. I wasn’t even sure if the section was any better than before I started. I began to think about the looming deadline for the book that seemed to get closer and closer with every passing minute. By the time the workday ended, I was in a bad mood.
Maybe you have had a similar experience. If you are a writer like me, I imagine there have been times when you have experienced writer’s block. Nothing seems to transfer from your head to your paper. Or maybe you’re in a different field, and have struggled to make progress on a project. Or perhaps you have felt stuck about a relationship problem, not knowing how to move forward.
What Happens When I’m Stuck
When I’m feeling stuck about something, here is what usually happens: I struggle to make progress, and I feel stuck. Then I start feeling angry and frustrated. I might feel scared, worrying that I won’t be able to fix or address the problem moving forward. These feelings distract me from the task at hand, making it more likely that I remain stuck. Since I feel more stuck, I get even more angry, frustrated, and scared. I get caught in a negative cycle that gets worse and worse until I finally feel exasperated and quit.
Take a Break
When I get in this stuck place, one of the best things I can do is put the project aside for a while and move on to something else. It helps me to sleep on it. I’m a firm believer that our minds go to work, even if we aren’t consciously aware of what is happening. Often I will wake up in the morning and have a new thought or fresh perspective on my project.
When I feel stuck, my mind is working in a particular way. I am seeing things from one perspective or vantage point. When I give myself a break, and allow my unconscious some time to work it out, I often come back and can tackle the problem from a different angle.
Discussion: What have you found to be the most helpful strategy when you are stuck on a project? Try taking a break, sleeping on the problem, and see if your unconscious mind can work on the problem for a while.