April 10, 2023

How to Get Unstuck When we feel Blocked.


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I’ve been feeling so stuck and blocked with writing lately.

I’ve kind of wanted to do it but also not. Or, I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything interesting to say.

Last week, I tried to get myself to write more than one article and couldn’t. I literally felt a blocked energy in my chest.

I realized yesterday morning why it was happening.

I read an article from a writer here on Elephant, who said she was going to write daily for one week. Something about the way she wrote it reminded me about how I started with writing years ago.

About six years ago, I was working in an administrative office at a university. A student in the program where I was working came into our office one December morning and I talked to him for a while. I asked what he was going to do during winter break. He said he was going to travel but didn’t really want to because “research had to be done.” (He was studying for his PhD.)

While another student told me later that it wasn’t necessarily because of a passion for research but an aspect of the nature of research in general (it happens on its own time), at the time, I saw it as someone who loved what he was doing so much that he didn’t even want to go on vacation. I lived for my vacations and days off and holidays, so it was shocking to me.

Later that day, I told a coworker about that conversation. She said she wished she had something like that. I said I did and that it was writing.

After traveling home to see my family for that winter break, I made a commitment to start writing every day for 15 minutes—with no pressure or timeline or thoughts of publishing anything. I knew that that—the pressure—was something that kept me from writing for most of my life. It felt like everything had to be perfect or article-worthy, and I wasn’t sure how to do it.

So, I decided to just write for 15 minutes every day before work. I’d just set the timer on my phone and write. Some days turned into 30 or more minutes, but it didn’t matter how long I did it—I was just happy to do it. It made me feel so alive, so light, so free.

Yesterday, as I read that article, I remembered how good it felt when I wrote for those 15 minutes each day, how it felt to just write, the feeling of finally writing. I also realized that I often still feel blocked because of that pressure, feeling like what I write has to be meaningful and beneficial and article-worthy.

Writing has turned into something that I do just for work, and I want to make every minute of my work hours count, so I don’t want to “waste” time by brainstorming or not writing something that will obviously turn into something. But all of this, I have come to see, has not only taken the joy out of it for me, but it’s blocked me from even really doing it.

Years ago, I loved writing for those 15 minutes, even though I had no intention of showing anyone anything. I didn’t even have plans of eventually writing articles and submitting them, although I did a month or two after starting the 15-minute practice. I published my first article—on Elephant.

I’d forgotten how good it can feel to write, without pressure or expectations, with just letting words flow and seeing what happens.

And so yesterday morning, I decided to write for just 20 minutes. Just for me.

I wrote and words flowed and eventually the idea for this article came out—because while I was writing, I realized that I’ve also been feeling stuck and blocked because sometimes I’m still not sure I have anything interesting or beneficial to say. I still have times when I question whether I have anything worth saying. I giggled at myself when I realized that this is still something I deal with at times.

It just goes to show that many of us writers can have the same kinds of thoughts—it doesn’t really matter how long we’ve been doing it.

After writing yesterday morning, I felt so wonderful. It felt nice to write, to write just because I like writing.

I also realized what was blocking me, and I found a way through it.

Sometimes we just have to get out of our own heads, look at our resistance, understand what really lingers beneath that resistance, and do something to challenge it, to break out of it.


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