We’ve all been there, staring at a blank screen, throwing endless drafts in the trash, perhaps pulling out the odd hair, as we scroll through our Facebook photos, re-order our music libraries and sometimes even wipe our computer clean; anything to pass the time and avoid admitting the painfully obvious – we’ve hit a block.
Writer’s block, or any other block for that matter, is a molehill often transformed into what seems like an insurmountable mountain by one thing and one thing only: us.
We are the cultivators and sole fuel source of the blocks we experience, as blocks are usually an indication that we’ve taken our focus off of what we want and placed it firmly on what we don’t.
This is a good thing, as it means we decide how big our blocks grow and for how long.
Sometimes our blocks are more resilient than usual, refusing to leave.
The following five tips are designed to help you clear away the mental cobwebs, swiftly returning you back to the creative flow where you belong.
1. Hit the Shower
Blocks of any nature are a result of one thing: not being firmly in the present.
Through either anxiously living in an anticipated future or stuck in the habitual past, we cut ourselves off from the inspiration and creativity that exists when we are fully present.
Taking a shower is a simple and effective way to bring our attention firmly back to the present moment, as it’s difficult not to be present when you have a stream of water hitting you in the face (for supersized results, go for a cold shower).
There is an added benefit here in that during a shower, we tend to relax, further increasing the probability of having inspired ideas and producing creative solutions to our problems.
Make sense now why people have some of their best ideas in the shower or bath?
2. Seek Out Sweat Sessions
Sometimes, an effective way to get out of the neighbourhood where blocks like to hang out (e.g.
our heads) is to engage in any high intensity activity or exercise .
Whether this involves a casual stroll in the park or running up mountains, anything that gets you into a different environment, preferably one with fresh air and nature, often does the trick.
Any activity that will cause you to become present and grounded in the now is great for jump-starting your creativity and circumventing blocks (e.g. Trail Running, Gym, Yoga, Pilates or Dancing).
Besides the obvious physical benefits and the released endorphins, a high quality high intensity work out is a great way to shift your focus back to the present, as its difficult to stay hung up on your block when your heart is pounding and your lungs are pleading for air.
[Author’s note: After experiencing such severe sweat sessions in the past where I’ve managed to forget not only my problems, but my own name, I advise not overdoing it on this one. Everything in moderation as they say].
3. Change the Channel
Blocks arise when we focus on what we don’t want, instead of on what we do want. When we take our attention off our initial aim and allow it to drift to places it has no business being, we end up going down a dead-end street and the next thing we know we have a big hairy mental block sitting on our desk.
A great trick for removing said hairy beast, is to change the channel or input we are putting our attention on. One way to do this is by doing something completely unrelated to the problem you are working on. For example, you could be writing a piece for a magazine, only to be hijacked by the most heinous mental block.
Former You would have thrown your hands up in the air, pounded your stapler and started seeing how many times you can spin around on your chair in one go. New You, calmly takes a deep breath, before opening up the TED Talks YouTube Page and selecting the first video to catch your attention.
20 minutes later, New You sits back, after being totally inspired and finds it difficult to remember why your problem seemed so big in the first place, when contrasted with solving world hunger or reducing climate change?
4. Change the Environment
This is a great trick for disarming mental blocks that don’t seem to go away. Our brains are pattern making machines, that’s their job, they make patterns based on our thoughts, words and actions. Very often, our blocks result from us getting stuck in an unwanted pattern of thought, which becomes a routine, which eventually becomes an unwanted rut.
A great way to “reset” an unwanted rut, which inevitably leads to the same dead-end destination, is to change the environment we have become so used to.
This applies to both our outer and inner world, and can be as simple as taking a holiday to a place we’ve never been before or taking a course we would never normally go on, which has always seemed interesting.
Anything that disrupts the same old routine, can be incredibly effective at helping us broaden our perspective and ultimately see new solutions to old problems.
If anyone asks, simply say you’re doing it in the interests of producing better work.
5. Still Stuck? Ask for Help
If you find you’re still stuck, after doing some of the suggestions above, it may be time to ask someone for help.
No one is truly successful alone, by asking for help you not only benefit from someone else’s objective perspective, you are also able to provide someone else with the opportunity to help solve a problem.
For the DIY high achievers , this may be difficult at first, however the more you do it, the easier it gets and the benefits that result from collaboration or consultation, can truly be astonishing.
Ensure that you ask someone whose opinion you trust and preferably someone who has successfully dealt with a similar situation before, there’s a reason so many opinions are free in this world.