This is an article originally published Oct. 12, 2009, in our old ezine, The Portable Business. Hope it helps you get your mojo back if you’re feeling stuck creatively or productively!
Ever run into a roadblock where you just can’t move forward?
You’re humming along on a project and then, bam—you’re stuck. Big brick wall.
You can’t figure a problem out, you’re not sure what the next step is, or your well of creativity seems to have suddenly run dry. Yeah, happens all the time to (literally) everyone.
Finding yourself in that place can be completely frustrating and stressful, especially when you’re really excited to release the work into the world (not to mention possibly being on that impractical little thing called a deadline).
But never fear, as I always say! Here are some tricks you can pull out that will have you unstuck in no time.
1. Do something else. Take a break from the task that has you stuck and focus your attention on another project entirely, especially if it’s one you can finish without any stumbling blocks. Sometimes the satisfaction of successfully completing something is enough to get your mojo flowing again.
2. Change your scenery. Sometimes when I get stuck, it’s because I’ve accumulated too much clutter or disarray. That kind of thing can niggle at you, taking up mental space and zapping energy. What helps is taking time out to straighten things up, bring in some fresh flowers and open the windows. Or heck, just get out of the office all together and go sit at a cafe.
3. Go for a walk. Doesn’t matter what the weather is—a jaunt with umbrella and galoshes can be just as fun and invigorating as one in the sun. The point is to get out in the fresh air and get your blood moving.
4. Get someone else’s input. Two heads are often better than one. Ask a mentor or colleague to help you brainstorm or bounce ideas around. A fresh set of eyes can help you see something in a new light or that which may have been in front of you the whole time.
5. Read something inspirational. Are there books or magazines that never fail to get you pumped? Go hang out with them for a bit.
6. Sleep on it. Sometimes just putting the project to bed for the night does wonders. It’s amazing how often a brilliant new idea or the solution to a vexing problem will appear to you in the light of a new day. One of my little tricks is to tell myself right before shutting my eyes, “Okay, let’s think on this tonight and have a solution in the morning.” It really works!
7. Trust. Don’t be fooled. You can’t force or rush creativity. It’s controlled by magical forces that only deign to let us harness them at their whim. So try to relax and comfort yourself with the fact your muse will return precisely when and where it is supposed to. And it will, trust me. You just need a bit of faith and patience sometimes.
RESOURCE: I haven’t read it myself, but I have heard so many great things over the years about the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It offers techniques for overcoming writer’s block that thousands of devotees swear by.
Thanks for the tips. Very useful in everyday life as well as when working on a project.
Great suggestions. The only one I would add is meditation. Sometimes it is really about shutting everything out, getting back the focus, letting everything go and that is when you are able to allow inspiration to come to you.
Great suggestions, Danielle. Layne had a good one too about meditation. It kind of ties into my favorite way to recharge — yoga, which is more or less active meditation.
I have read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, which is a 12 week program designed to unleash your creativity. She has other titles as well, all very helpful in nurturing the artist within.
Love your suggestions Danielle. Can I also suggest retail therapy, even if it is just window shopping on Pinterest.
Seriously though, for me surfing always always fixes any creative blocks or other woes. There’s something about the cool salty water and the wet sand massaging my feet.