And now we’ve reached the end of this mini-series; how to unblock your mind if you’re feeling stuck while writing.
We’ve looked at how to find the motivation to get started, how to stay focused during long sessions, but what if you’ve settled down in your designated workspace, you’ve got your writing music on, and still find yourself stuck? Maybe it’s a creative issue, like where to take a plot or how to handle a character or maybe you’re struggling with finding the right angle for an essay question or finding relevant connections in your resources and references.
There is a key-phrase for this post, and one phrase slithering like a red thread through this issue of being stuck; change of scenery. If you stay staring at your computer screen, in the exact same place, on the exact same word document, you’ll most likely stay right where you are on your problem, but with a little change of air, you might see some solutions start appearing. Read on for some ways to find this change whilst working!
7. Go for a walk
Leave your computer where it is, leave your documents and notes and research behind and get outside. Walk through town, have a wander through a nearby park, do a little hike if you live and work near some woods. Getting out, feeling the wind on your face and breathing some fresh air might help you see your issue in a new light, and even when you’re not actively thinking about it, you’re processing the issue in your head, subconsciously working with your problem. I always find an essay feels less daunting and chaotic after a little walk, after you’ve seen some people and heard some bird chatter. You don’t have to go too far either, just a stroll around campus might be enough if you’re on a tight schedule or just not feeling a long walk. Try it, maybe you’ll be surprised!
8. Have a shower or a bath
This point is quite similar to the one above; take a break and just think about what’s got you stuck, without staring at your screen, actively trying to solve it. Let the warm water wash over you and let yourself relax completely. Then put on some comfortable clothes, tie your hair up, put on some moisturizer and pamper yourself a bit. Make yourself a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate, and get back to your writing or your work, and have a look at it with fresh eyes. This has helped me so many times and might be my favourite trick to get going again when I’m stuck.
9. Change up your workspace
Pack up your stuff and move to a different space. This does contradict creating a consistent workspace, but if you’re really stuck, it might not be enough with just a break to clear your mind, you might need a new workspace altogether. Grab your laptop and your notes and get comfy in a cafe, in a park or just in a different part of the library. The new people surrounding you, the new smells and sounds and different impulses, might help jolt your brain out of whatever rut it’s stuck on, helping you find that new angle or the solution to that plot-hole.
And last but not least, a point that spans over all three posts in this “Tricking Motivation”-series;
10. Write with someone else
If you’re stuck, if you’re struggling with keeping your focus and motivation or if you catch yourself whittling time away on your phone, collaborative writing may be the solution for you. Working with someone is very useful for writers for a lot of reasons. First of all, writing is often quite solitary work, but having someone to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm with and to workshop sentences and pieces with, can both make the process of writing quicker, more productive and more fun, and it will most likely lead to a better product. Working with someone also means that you have someone who keeps you accountable for how you spend your time. They can catch you if you start drifting off before the designated break time and they can help you keep your eyes off your phone and your fingers on the keyboard. This is, of course, as long as they’re not the one drifting off or distracting you with chitchat and cat videos. I do believe everyone’s been both of these people, one or two times before.
So, there you go, three posts about how to find motivation, keep focused, and get back on track when you’re stuck. This was my first attempt at a scheduled “article-esque” mini-series on this blog, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot! Looking forward to writing more posts like this in the future. Hopefully, you found some of these points helpful, either as a reminder of something you already knew or as easy solutions you’ve just not really thought about before.
Thank you so much for reading these “Tricking Motivation” posts, and I wish you all the best for your writing sessions in the future.
Question of the day: What do you do to get your brain going again when you’re stuck?