“I hit a road block, but wanna push through.”
When you have a block of any kind, you have two options: take a break or push through.
Taking a break is easy. You step away from the computer/notepad. Shut it down even. Go to the park and play; walk; sing and dance to music; go find friends and have a long conversation. Anything at all really.
You can take a partial break to destress: have a meal, take a shower, read your kid a picture book, a walk around the block, a five minute anything.
The first options are “I’m taking the rest of the day off.”
The second is “I’m taking a fifteen/half hour break” as if at work.
These are things you can do when working any job. It’s the same for this. It’s a job. It’s work. Treat it like that.
What if I’ve already taken my offered breaks, and I can’t take the day off? Or what if I just to fucking finish this thing already?
I get ya. I know that feeling.
Here’s a trick.
Get up make yourself a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate. Something that requires action. Don’t just grab a bottle from the fridge. At least take the time and effort to find a clean glass and pour it into it. (This won’t work if there aren’t clean glasses.)
During this time you have two options: think of the next moment in your story- even talk it out to yourself- or let your mind be blank. Do not think about the cleaning that needs to happen. Do not think about other work that needs to be done. You want to finish this. Those items are no longer on your list of things to do. And they won’t be until you’re done with your time allotment for the day.
Make it the perfect cup. Then bring it back with you to the computer.
You want to push through, but it’s frustrating you. It’s being a pain. I get it. I do. Been there, done that.
Just write. I know: hard. But it’s the key here. Words don’t happen if you don’t write.
Write until you just can’t take it anymore. You’re ready to pull your hair out.
Stop. Shock, I know. Take up your mug, savor the drink for a moment. Let it relax you back into a usable state. Sip slowly. Let the drink mingle on your tongue.
Put the mug back down. It did it’s job. Return to writing. The meltdown coming should be tampered enough to get more words down.
If it’s not. You can’t finish this right now. You need a longer break to just think things through and manage the emotions the work is creating. Either switch which project you’re working on or take a longer break.
Every time you get annoyed by the words, savor a sip of your drink. Really savor it. You made something you’ll like. Savor it every time you get frustrated.
When you finish the drink, go make another one. Seriously, take that five minute break to refresh and pause. Few companies complain when you go get a drink mid-work. Even the worst of them let you get up for water. So you are giving yourself that short respite to get another drink.
Then it’s back in your chair with your words before you. Do the same thing. Write until frustration, savor a sip, return to writing.
When I did this to clear through… I don’t even recall which one of the stories drew this out, but it did. And it worked. I sipped to relax, then I went back into the story. And at some point my flow return and I was writing “The End” in no time.
It happens. To all writers. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, then you haven’t written enough. The story gets a little fuzzy in our head or the characters are being idiots (but they kinda need to be) or we have to kill our favorite character or… the list goes on why we get frustrated over our work.
If you are sitting in a cafe, you can get on line and get a drink instead of make your own. Same concept. It forces you to get up and move away from your frustration. You’ll come back well enough to continue.
I figured this out back in college actually. I didn’t have the allowance to put off a paper back then. Due dates were a thing. Fiction doesn’t have the same timing issues that college requires.
I would sit with a drink in hand. Every time I needed that break- but wasn’t allowed to have it- I took a sip. I savor the sip of drink, swallowed and got back to work.
I never had to do that with any job I ever had. Was it because they were too easy? No. It never got me to the same level of frustration that writing does. Because I am trying to get more out of a first draft (or whatever draft I’m on) than possible. I am aiming for perfect. I didn’t give that level of care for any of my jobs prior. Writing is on another level.
Creatives are on another level. I bet all the creatives out there can get this frustration. It’s part of being a professional with whatever work they pick.
This has been one of the few things that worked too. Deadlines loam. I don’t want to just ignore them. That means pushing.
How to push:
- Get up and make yourself the perfect cup of coffee (drink).
- Return to your work and write.
- When frustration seems to win, savor a sip of coffee.
- Swallow and return to the work.
- Repeat until drink is empty.
- Start from step one again until work is complete.