How to Get Unstuck: Study
Learn something new, just because.
When is the last time you approached a task with the unclouded, pure and open mind of an eager child? If you’re like me, you probably can’t recall. In fact, you may have actually been a child the last time you really let yourself jump into something new. And if you were an anxious, shy kid — as I was — this joyful leap may have taken place in the years before your memories began to settle.
You may, in short, have no memory of a time before you were afraid to not be good enough. As adults, getting stuck on a project is certainly not in line with the generally accepted definition of “good enough.” But sometimes it’s quite necessary, and rather than persevere, we must temporarily set it aside in order to do something else.
We get stuck in our work for many reasons, but it’s not usually because we suck at it. In fact, when stuckness arrives, we are generally engaged in an activity at which we are quite adept. The stuckness, then, comes not from lack of talent or skill, but from something else — fatigue, or fear, or fixation on some imagined idea of perfection. We’ve done this before, so we must do it better this time around.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve written five books, four of which have actually been published. I’ve written a handful of scripts for film and television, a few of which have actually garnered me a paycheck. I’ve written a lot of essays and articles, some for free, most for small to moderate sums, a few for pretty good money. I have taught writing in various genres to children, teens, and adults. I am a member of the Writers Guild of America. I am, in short, a writer, and this passion, addiction, and profession is part of my identity.
But identity is a tricky thing, and building one’s persona around what one does can be especially risky for one’s mental health. After all, there may come a time when I cannot type, scribble, or speak my stories into the world. Who am I if not a writer? Who are you if not — well, you’ll fill in the blank for yourself.