You are amazing.
I posted last week about feeling stuck with my new project. That sometimes the words come so easily, they fly out quicker than I can type. Lately, it’s been like dragging a sled up hill in the snow. In ski boots. It’s sucked.
I hesitated to write a “feedback” post — I didn’t want to feel lonely when I asked “So what do you do when you feel stuck?” and have no one answer. Not that I think I am the only one who ever gets stuck … in writing, life, exercise, relationships, parenting … all of it. It’s just that admitting you get stuck is one thing. Asking for help. That’s another.
You guys blessed me with your kindness, your suggestions and most of all the feeling of just not being alone in my stuckness. To top it all off? I got unstuck. I had my most productive day of writing to date and nearly doubled my over all word count this past week! Anddd … I have all kinds of new ideas to try when I do get stuck again … because we all know I will get stuck again. It may not be for month, it might be tomorrow. But it will happen and you have helped me be better prepared the next time around.
One of my rituals when I find myself in a place where I don’t feel productive, am restless, can’t focus, can’t decide the next step is to simply STOP. Stop thinking. Stop scrambling. Stop trying to figure out what to do next. That’s usually when walking – or my active state of meditation – comes into play and I virtually always come back with a positive, focused attitude.
I’d already tried walking last week when I wasn’t making any head way, and frankly it didn’t work. I was at such a loss because it always works. What I wasn’t being honest about with myself– and there fore in my post–was that I hadn’t just been stuck that day. I’ve been stuck for two months. I’ve been placing my writing, my goals, my interests on the back burner while I shuffle kids to jobs, driver’s ed, football, baseball, workouts. While I got the oil changed, picked up dry cleaning, did laundry and managed a few minor renovations at home. Nothing out of the ordinary (and I’ve had out of the ordinary in the last two years … this wasn’t it!) and nothing I hadn’t handled while I wrote “Last Turn Home”. So … what was so different? Why had I gotten so stuck and why didn’t walking unstick me?!
In part … because I gave up. I gave up on myself. I gave up on my writing. I gave up on my gentle idea that I can be impactful with my words. I gave up because inside my head there is a doubter that I allowed to get so loud I couldn’t hear my cheerleader. I got stuck because I began listening to the wrong voice and I started breaking promises to myself. I gave myself leeway where I shouldn’t have — you’re tired it’s okay if you sleep through that early morning writing session.
I started to hear only the doubter in my head. You know that girl. She’s stupid loud. The one that says, your book isn’t that good. This next book is worse. What do you have to say that’s important? Everyone will think you are acting like a know-it-all! You are too old, you can’t start over now. Your book was self-published, it’s not like it’s a real book. She’s a real bitch.
Somewhere in there was my own voice … albeit too quiet lately. The one that said, create a book because you can. Create a book because you want to. Write a blog post because you do have something to say. She was so quiet and she let bossy-pants push her around. She didn’t speak up and say, “Hey! Quit blowing me off!” But her spirit was there, and the small little fire she kept burning while Doubter was busy trying to blow out her flames she persisted.
The other reason I was stuck? I was pushing in the wrong direction. The words weren’t there because I had deviated from the story I had started to tell. I wanted to write about forgiveness, about owning your part when things go wrong, about legacies we leave our children and all the difficult ways that life can go wrong and all the beautiful ways we can make it right. When I stopped trying to write what I thought I needed to write to make others happy (I am not even sure who these others are for goodness sakes) the words came back. Just like life … we get stuck when we are making decisions that are counterproductive to our end goal We get stuck when we try and mold ourselves into someone we aren’t. We get stuck when we don’t learn and grow and change with new needs, new goals and new lessons.
When you are writing and you aren’t sure anyone is reading, when you aren’t writing for money or for a career, when you are writing for the pleasure and the opportunity to share your thoughts and words it’s easier to dismiss it as not important. Now … substitute writing for any thing you are passionate about and remind yourself. There have to be things in life that we do that are not for productivity, profit. Those are the things that bring us joy, purely for joy’s sake. Those are the things that make the things we have to do worth getting done. Someone remind me of that the next time I bail on myself, please?
You know what the amazing thing was? I got unstuck simply by writing … Help. I’m stuck. I got unstuck by simply deciding to ask for help. By admitting I couldn’t write. By admitting I had given up. By admitting I needed a helping hand. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you aren’t drowning be a life preserver”. You guys threw me life preservers by offers of ideas! By reminding me to slow down, by offering to visit the river with me, by reminding me to use my body and move to encourage my mind to work in an avenue I needed it to. By giving me your ideas, and your thoughts … you threw me a life preserver and I am so thankful.
Be a life preserver when you can.