It happens to all of us sooner or later. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, an engineer or a pastor, we all have projects that need doing – books and articles to write, a looming customer deadline, a sermon that won’t reveal itself.
And there you sit…and sit…and sit.
I’ve been there, and I’d have to guess that you have, too. Words don’t magically appear on my computer screen, and things outside the window are suddenly a lot more appealing than what I’m really supposed to be doing.
I sometimes struggle with how to begin, and I mean that quite literally. I have the germ of an idea, waiting to burst through the soil of my mind, but I can’t seem to think of the introduction. Oh, sure, everything else lurks just beneath the surface, but I can’t get that first line to materialize.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things that I hope might help you.
1) Write around the block. When the introduction won’t come, I start in on the rest. Once, I even went so far as to write “this introduction sucks” at the top of the page, then went on to write my article. After I reviewed my work, an introductory paragraph popped in my head, so I ran with it.
2) Run around the block. Literally, if you have to. Otherwise, step back. Sometimes our brains become so bogged down in fleshing out ideas that we lose the ability to sift and sort, choosing what’s important. When I feel my hair standing on end, I know it’s time to step away. There have been times when a mundane activity like washing the dishes unleashes an idea. It’s weird, but when I stop chasing, the idea often comes to me.
3) Just do it. I’m a planner, an investigator. While that’s great for gathering information, it can also be an excuse to procrastinate. I can “justify” avoiding work because of my “need” to gather more information. A few days ago, I had a wonderful chat with my friend, Cassy Tully, who told me that sometimes you “just have to do it.” Wonderful advice!
How do you break through the occasional cement block of creativity? I’d love to hear your ideas, because I’m always looking for ways to improve my productivity – both in writing and life in general.