Lotsa folks are all kinds of stuck.
Check out these fine puppies (and by “puppies” I mean tips to getting unstuck.)
0. Hey, just skip beginner level. 😉
Intermediate Level 1 – 7
1. 10 Minutes of Babbling Brilliance
Write 10 minutes on the following questions, doesn’t have to be good or even make sense.
What’s something you wish were true right now? What’s something that is true that you hate is true?
2. Six Word Story
Hemingway wrote “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”
Quickly write 20 six word stories. Forget being good. Just write.
(I can share with you some of mine next week.)
3. Gibberish or Genius (15 Minutes)
Write 15 minutes on the following topic, doesn’t have to be good or even make sense.
4. 30 Minutes Stream of Consciousness Journaling
Write your thoughts and feelings, hopes and wishes, plans for the day, memories, and whatever for 30 minutes.
5. One Week Challenge
Do the above exercise every morning for one week.
6. Write a surreal sentence intentionally.
7. Write an ungrammatical sentence intentionally.
8. How to Get Unstuck Forever: 1 Tool, 1 Strategy, a Philosophy, and a Story
First, the tool: If you’re feeling stuck, start by naming your emotion. “I’m frustrated.” “I’m tense.” “I’m disappointed.” Let the next thing flow from there.
I took this from a tip an improv teacher gave in an improv class I took. In improvisational acting you have to step forward and say something. Something. Something has to come out of your mouth. But you might freeze up. Especially when there’s the pressure of an audience watching. So the teacher gave us a trick. Blurt your feelings.
“I’m freaked out.” “I’m angry!” “Oh my god, I’m so ridiculously nervous.” Emotions pretty much always add something interesting to an improv scene (and any creative endeavor.) Even if it’s not interesting, at least now you’ve said something, you’ve made your presence known, you’ve broken the ice, and you’ve got your mouth moving.
(Another trick in improv for when you are bottled up and stuck is to simply do a random gesture of some kind and see what comes next.)
The strategy is pretty simple and follows from the tool just described. Do or say something, anything, then another thing. Release all expectations. Abandon hope! (That it will be genius.) Continue to do or say whatever little thing that comes to mind without hesitation.
The philosophy: there is no stuck. It’s something else instead. It’s fear of failure, or making mistakes, or looking foolish, or looking stupid. It could just be fear of boredom.
That’s what it is really. The proof? Open your mouth and say something. You can. It will come out. You are, therefore, unstuck.
You can willfully force a word out. That works. And you can grease the wheels by consciously reducing all expectations and reducing all pressure. There are no stakes — none — except to make words come out, which is pretty easy.
Think something, and say it out loud or write it down. Done. It might suck, but you’re unstuck. Worried that you’re suddenly stuck again? Just repeat. You don’t even have to rinse!! OMG, so easy.
This could be the best writing mantra ever: “It might suck, but you’re unstuck.”
Because hey, try to stop thinking. Now. Stop thinking. Really try. 🙂 You can’t. So, you’ll always have thoughts to express.
Write about your fears. Write about your deep desires. Write about a time you had a deep desire. Write about an apple. Write about hangnail. Write about something you can see right now that is red. Write down some of the details of a conversation you had in your head yesterday. Write down an amazing line from a song you love. Take a book down from the shelf. Open to page 5. Copy the 6th sentence into your notebook. Rewrite it 7 times. Write 3 of your favorite poems on postcards and mail them to friends. Write a sentence that doesn’t make sense on purpose. Write about who you would like to kiss right now. Complete this sentence, “This morning I…”
Getting unstuck is always a beginning. Now, let’s begin. I will start a story and you will continue it.
Once upon a time, a puppy named Harry found a ___________ and then he __________ and then what happened next was absolutely incredible…