Sometimes you just have to open the computer and start typing. Even if you feel stuck in a rut and don’t quite know where the story is going to end. It has been three months now since I have written a post, and it has not been from a lack of ideas. Nor from a lack of desire. I love to write and I know that it is amazingly cathartic to clear my head. But I haven’t been able to just put the pen to paper to start a post much less to finish one.
Further, this is one of those classic cases where life imitates art. That sense of stuck-ness that has plagued me in my writing is also prevalent more broadly across my life’s works. It is not that I am unhappy or even un-driven, but rather that I just feel as if anytime I attempt to make a step forward that I am stepping into a fog of molasses. I don’t know if you have ever felt that way, but for me this is the most profound feeling of “block” broadly across my world that I have experienced. The desire to be productive and to make a difference is still strong, but the activation energy to get moving is remarkably high. I am still busy, and I am still checking boxes, but it feeling more like scribbling than composing a masterpiece.
As I have spent some time diagnosing the source of this so that I can find the path out of the fog, I have seen a few consistent themes.
- Too much noise: Across all aspects of my world, I am just surrounded by clutter; those nagging and incessant responsibilities and headaches that add no real value to society but weigh heavily on the to do list. It is far too easy for me to get sucked into the endless vortex of tasks while being pulled further away from things that matter. Spending too much time immersed in the noise not only takes focus away from that which is truly meaningful, but it drowns out my sense of fulfillment as well.
- No clear definition of success: Now that my book is drafted and near publishing, I don’t have a good sense for what this blog should stand for as I move forward. In my career, now that I am at approximately a halfway point, I am reassessing what I want to be, and do, when I grow up. Without having a clear finish line in mind, it is hard for me to just keep running.
- Focus on what is out of my control: It is easy to get overwhelmed worrying about what is happening peripherally, instead of keeping my eyes on what I can truly deliver personally. There is a lot of uncertainty all around me and there are a lot of people and problems that try to steal my attention. Too much time dwelling on that which I don’t control not only steals my time, but also my mental capacity to deliver what I care to control.
- Guilt in resting: Because of my “block” in making progress on my priorities, it is hard for me to justify taking a rest. How can I possibly take a break to refresh and to escape when there are so many tasks that demand my attention? This faulty logic not only exacerbates my activation energy issues, but also zaps the creativity and experiences that I need to be innovative. Denying myself the permission to step away both drains my batteries and also denies me the escape to diverse opportunities where new ideas and connections are born.
As I work through this block that is impacting my writing and beyond, it is natural to want to solve everything at once; to drop everything and define my vision for the future, find a breakthrough solution for eliminating clutter, and force myself to rest and recharge. But that isn’t even remotely realistic. What I can’t do, however, is to stay stuck in the rut, staring at the blank sheet of paper wishing for a magical story, with a happy ending, to present itself before me. Now, when faced with this immovable block in the mental road, I have to just start writing and see where the story takes me.