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Home >  Blog >  When it all seems too difficult ... How to get past your peskily persistent content-stipation

When it all seems too difficult ... How to get past your peskily persistent content-stipation

Posted by Meredith Papas on 22 March 2018

A wonderful counsellor said to me once, you cannot do your best work when you are in a blue or red zone. You have to be in the green zone.

These zones she was referring to are aligned to Dr Dan Siegel's Window of Tolerance model - blue is depression, red is anxiety, and green is the calm in the middle.

So, even without looking directly at the model, it stands to reason that if you are caught in the midst of the red or blue areas you're not going to be terribly productive!

You've heard of going with your flow, of being in the zone - whatever you call it, the principle stands.

You're in your calm, productive zone.

The clarity is glorious, the ideas crystalising and the ideas and concepts which had been weighing on your mind (and prickling your conscience) have all of a sudden found their way beyond the confines of a foggy mind, down your now fluid shoulders and arms and the words come dancing up on the screen to the rhythm of a constant, fast-tapped keyboard.

It's blissful.

Writers block is a very real - and rather calamitous - condition which beleaguers writers of all nature.

Be they authors, professors, journalists, professional scribes or columnists, the one reliable condition of their pursuit is that there will come a time when they come to a hault and they have no idea from where to start again.

It is as physical an affliction as mental. And it is more exhausting sitting, looking at a screen of blankness, or maybe some half-constructed sentences which seem to be staring back at you with a sinister undertone of "so now what?".

So how do you get past it?

If anyone really had the answer to that question, they'd be rich!

But there are some techniques and tricks which have worked over the years and have given short shrift to even the most stubborn of cases of writers block.

Really, these are just pointers - and it's up to you to go through that tried and tested process of trial and error to see how you go.

1. Walk Away. Not for good. But get up and know when you're beat. The more you sit staring at the screen, the faster your frustration grows - and what follows is a vicious circle of angst and deep disappointment over the fact you cannot seem to put words to paper. Get up, go for a walk. Make a cup of tea. Take a nap if fatigue if the cause of your woe. Play with the dogs, read to the kids. Cook. Garden. Do whatever it is which will help in the reframing of your block-ridden disposition.

2. Practice mindfulness. You have been mulling over a sentence of no more than even 12 words for the past hour, ruminating, pontificating and wallowing in the malais which is your writers block. Yuck! What a terrible waste of hours that you'll never get back! Either at your desk, or, preferably away from it in a favoured spot in your home or office (or somewhere close by) take a moment of pause to stop, observe and become immersed in your surrounds. Consider what you see. Focus on the facets and colours and diversity of the visual palette laid out in front of you. Now be observant of what you hear. Traffic? Children playing and nattering? Footsteps? Then scratch the surface and consider more closely. The breeze. A bird. A person whistling. A far off beeping horn? Certainly this is in an urban context, but you get the drift. Then do the same for your sense of smell and sense of touch. Feel your shirt or trousers as the breeze moves it to and fro against you. Be conscious of the smell of cut lawn or the smell of coffee from a nearby vendor. Feel the strap of your handbag on your shoulder, or your wallet in the inside pocket of your jacket. Expereince every sense and focus. 

3. Breathe. This and mindfulness go hand in hand. Deep nourishing breaths which feel like they fill every last crevice of your cavernous lungs are renewing to the body and mind. Visualise your body expelling the negativity and anxiety and confidence inhibitors which stand blocking you from your potential. With every exhale imagine the fractured pieces of that block being expelled and your creativity and talent being given the freedom to channel through your mind and finally form a conherant and fluid body of work.

4. Remind yourself. You started this project for a reason, right? So it doesn't hurt to remember that from time to time. If vision boards are your thing then do one and focus on it when inspiration is called upon. Make a diary note when you manage to overcome writers block. Chronicle what brought you back so you can draw on that wisdom when it happens again. Quietly meditate on the importance of the project and your why behind it. The authentic and truest WHY is your most powerful tool and it is that which will pull you out of the darkest pits.

With every block conquered, there is a renewed determination and confidence that the project is nearer to completion. That's in the literal and emotional sense.

There's never a need - or a justification - for giving up.

Just be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself the natural shortcoming that plagues every writer at one point or other, and just keep going.

You know it will be worth it.


Author: Meredith Papas
About: WORDS In business they are your most powerful tool; but use them poorly, and they'll be your undoing. Enter, Meredith Papas and iScribe Consulting. Words are Meredith's business. For the past 20 years Meredith has used the written word as her tool of trade. She cut her teeth as a journalist in Regional Queensland, where she specialised in business, agriculture and industry writing, as well as penning features and profiles on regional businesses and identities. She honed her skills as a sub-editor and proof reader, and then took on leadership roles as a newspaper editor in Mount Isa, Gladstone and Mackay. Add to that, roles as a regional editor and then senior group content editor for one of Asia-Pacific's largest regional media organisations, and it rounds out a solid skill set which spans the full gamut of high-level professional writing. Meredith has a simple philosophy: Everyone has a story to tell. But it's not what you have to say - it's how you say it. From professional bios, to business capability statements; CVs to business cases; funding submissions to content for your website, Meredith will work with you to make sure your clients know exactly what you're about. It's insight. It's experience. It's your story to tell. So, tell it.
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