Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When you're stuck in life

I'm writing this post for myself. I'm a writer and I'm stuck. I've tried everything to get unstuck and none of what I've tried has worked. I've tried everything from little mental tricks (sit in the chair for an hour and the writing will come) to sheer force of willpower. And nothing, nada, nyet, stugots has worked. But I think I found something that's promising. It's from the author Vernon Howard:

When you grow tired of a certain activity, it merely means you have temporarily used up that particular pool of energy. When this happens, you should simply go along with nature to a different activity which calls upon another pool, permitting the previous pool to refresh itself. When tired of mental work, do something physical. You won't need to think about changing an activity; it happens by itself whenever a pool is exhausted. Just be aware of the signal and follow it. (italics mine)

Simple, right? Not for me it isn't. I just keep banging my head against the same wall over and over again. I have to write my novel. To do anything else feels like a failure or a cop-out or a waste of time. My mind says, "This is what I should be doing. (And anything else won't do.)"

What's helped me is to see that what Howard suggests is a natural process. The pool of a particular activity gets used up. It make no sense trying to find water in that dry pool. Go on to a new pool. As Howard says, in the meantime, the previous pool will refresh itself.

Doing this blogpost was my first attempt at following Howard's advice, and honestly as of right now it feels pretty terrible. But at least I'm not banging my head against the wall anymore, so in that sense it's real progress right there.

I think the key for me is recognizing the signal that the pool is dry. Doing so is tricky because sometimes I am able to force my way into writing. It's just now I know if it's time and time again I can't write, I need to find something else to do.

After that, the writing will come. And I imagine the process isn't any different for any other life situation where I find myself stuck.


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