I want to paint you a picture of how almost every post on here begins. I open up my computer, start a new document, format it to be Times New Roman, 12 pt., 1.2 spacing. Super random, I know, but it’s got to be that format for me to be able to write and sift through what I write. Then that little cursor sits at the top left corner of the document taunting me. Each flash of the cursor seeming to say “You. Have. Nothing.” Of course, it’s a simple writer’s block. Or a not-so-simple writer’s block if you’ve ever been on the “blocked” side. It’s not just something that you can will away. You can’t just think harder and make it disappear.
I think a lot of us tend to feel that way sometimes. Writer or not, you’ve probably felt stale. Uninspired. Blocked. Stuck. You can’t drone on day after day doing the same old same old. And I don’t want that life for you! That’s a terrible place to be. You find yourself stuck in a rut that’s guiding your life in a direction of which you feel no control. So the question begs to be answered:
What can I do about it?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
I think some of the the things that I’ve picked up to combat writer’s block can apply to us when we feel stuck in a rut at work, creatively, in a relationship, or just in life.
- Find some new tunes.
When I hit that wall, I always change up the soundtrack. Chance the Rapper isn’t giving me anything? Let’s try the tried-and-true pop punk playlist. Still nothing? Let’s take a trip to today’s hits. Whatever it is, there’s something that always strikes a chord (get it?) and gets me writing.
What are you listening to? Are you listening to the same top 40 playlist every day at work? Mix it up. Just a simple switch of background music provides a new canvas for your work to happen upon. But to take it a step further, what are you listening to non-musically? Find a great new podcast that might clue you in on a new way to approach your job. Listen to some new people around the office and learn what they’re all about. Maybe you’ll make some friends that add a little enjoyment to your work.
- Find a new spot.
I love to write with people around most of the time. The bustle of a coffee shop is where I work the best. I like having some movement and busyness going on for my brain to fire away. But I’ve recently discovered that I can crank out some work when I isolate myself. There’s a limit to my isolation time, though. It’s not how I work best, but switching up the scene for me puts me in a new headspace and gives me fresh thoughts. Again, I’m changing the canvas and consequently my headspace.
Maybe in your work that means taking a couple of hours in the week to leave your cubicle and work in the break room. Maybe your communal office space needs to be vacated for a coffee shop. Or maybe you’re like me and need to find that place to put your headphones in, close the door and get to work.
- Find something new to learn.
I think at this point, you all know well enough that almost everything revolves arounds learning. If I’m feeling stale in my writing, I’m going to try to pull from something I’ve been reading or from a podcast I heard in the last week. It’s hard for me to hear something new and not immediately apply it to my life. Most of the time, my brain goes straight to work. What did I just learn that can apply to my job? And of late, a lot of it has ended up here. How does what I just learned fit into the 1,000-Hour Pro journey?
For me, learning doesn’t just give me a new canvas. It has the ability to give me a bigger, differently-oriented canvas. Something new as part of my repertoire can flip my view of work from landscape to portrait. The walls of the rut become significantly shorter, and I hop right out.
If you’re feeling stuck, try one of these. Or if you have something that’s your go-to for seeing your day in a new light, share it! These are definitely not the only ways to get unstuck, but these are a few of my favorites.