During MarsCon in January 2020 one of my panels was Get Out of Your Way. I decided to run a panel about how to get unstuck. Sometimes you become your own obstacle. To my surprise, when it came time for my panel I looked out on a full room. This in great contrast to some panels being attended by anywhere from one to five people. Not a bad thing, there’s a lot going on in conventions.
This reaffirmed my idea that a lot of us are stuck and not sure what to do to get moving again. Please realize, I am no expert or psychologist. I have just been stuck many times, too, and have learned a few things. I wrote up a summary of the outline I used to run the panel and added some of the input from the other panelists.
–When Time is Your Enemy
One of our biggest stumbling blocks is time management. I hear you. I have a full time job and am a mom and wife and have pets. I also work with HCS. At the end of the day, it’s hard to gather the desire to find or spend any time on your project.
- Create a schedule: They aren’t for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth a shot. Schedule yourself a given amount of time to work on your project. From five minutes to two hours, if you form the habit of making time, you will start feeling the motivation.
- Use your time wisely: “Today I will research this.” “Today I will edit this section.” “Today I will only write.” “Today I will glue that piece on.” Be specific. Be purposeful. Set attainable goals.
- Be willing to let something else go: Social media, games, TV … yes, you want to wind down, but how much of that time can be spent furthering your project?
–When Your Muse is Your Enemy
Lack of creative flow in any project can put an indefinite halt on things. Especially now during an extremely difficult time in our world, creativity may feel like a thing of the past.
- Work on something else: If trying to force your brain to put energy towards something is too much, try picking up a different creative project. Sometimes taking the pressure off can give you the freedom to think about what’s stopping you.
- Read craft books: This has helped me a lot in writing, but I imagine it can spread to other types of projects. Craft books have exercises you should absolutely do that will help you get the creativity going. For example, taking your character through an interview can produce some very interesting results.
- Break your project down: If your creativity won’t come because the size of what you are trying to do feels too overwhelming, break it down into small pieces. This is where planning your time will really help. “Today I will focus on an outline.” “Today I will spend twenty minutes looking at color options.” “Today I will do three exercises from my craft book.” Most projects will seem less daunting when you chop it up into doable chunks.
–When Fear of Failure is Your Enemy
Some of us avoid even starting to write because our first draft won’t make it to the New York Time‘s Best Seller list. Or we don’t start that project because maybe we have to learn as we go. Why even bother to start when it won’t be perfection?
- Drafts are our friends: Say it with me … drafts are our friends. Your piece will most likely look like a swamp monster when you first start out. That’s okay. Drafts are part of the process. Be okay with your piece not looking so great when you start out.
- The journey matters: So your writing or project doesn’t look perfect at the end. You see the imperfections everywhere. You still haven’t failed. The fact that you finished it makes you a success. What did you learn along the way? What can you learn now to improve?
- Change your perspective: See your first drafts as potential. See your progress as you succeeding in defeating your obstacles. See your finished products as a testament that you can finish projects. See your imperfections as learning opportunities.
-When You are Your Enemy
We’ve come to the biggest obstacle. Our own selves. Our own voices. Our own mentality. It’s a big one and it can be a very deep and powerful obstacle.
- Dig deep: Take some time to discover what it is that is stopping you. What are you telling yourself? What are you allowing yourself to be told by others?
- Overcome: Take steps to overcome the negativity. Mediate, talk to someone, read some enlightening books. You are worth overcoming the blocks you set up for yourself or have allowed others to set up against you.
- Rewrite the voices: Learn new mantras to tell yourself. Replace the negative statements with powerful, positive self love. Rewrite the negativity from others into powerful encouragement to keep moving forward. Or build the strength in yourself to dismiss the negativity all together.
You deserve to be free from your obstacles. Sometimes, it takes some hard work to identify what they are and even harder work to remove them. You deserve to be free of them. You deserve to work on your project with a smile on your face and sense of accomplishment. You deserve to break free from the negativity and channel positivity into your heart and mind and center.