How to Get Unstuck

Sometimes when you’re working on something you get stuck. Maybe it’s that the project feels too big and you don’t know where to start (or what to do next). Maybe you can feel something isn’t working but you’re not sure what it is. Maybe you feel like you’ve been doing everything right and nothing is changing. 


I have been there. It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening. It can make you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels. 


Here are three things to try to help you get unstuck:


1: Take a break.

Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a project you’re too close to it and so you can’t see what needs to be done. Taking a break for a while allows you to revisit it with fresh eyes. Close the document. Put the pages in a drawer. Take the project off of your to-do list. Not for forever, but at least for a couple of days. Do something else. Work on something else. Then try again. 


2: Get some outside help.

Maybe you need to get notes from someone. Maybe you need to tell someone else about your project and ask them what they would do. Maybe you need to invite a friend to come over and look at your mess of a room and give you some insight into how they would tackle the organization job. Even if you don’t like their ideas or agree with their notes this is often enough to get you unstuck or at least give you one new thing to try to get you back into it. 


3: Break it apart.

Sometimes what feels overwhelming is you’re trying to tackle the entire issue at once. You’re trying to reorganize the entire house (or even your entire closet). You’re trying to do a complete rewrite of a script. Take the project apart into the smallest pieces. Get as granular as you can. Write out as many steps as you can think of. For instance, if you wanted to tackle reorganizing a room one step could be: organize one drawer. An even small step could be dump everything out of one drawer. Step two: split things into three piles: keep, throw away, donate. Step three: Put keep back into drawer. For a writing project it could be: check first five pages for typos. Make an outline of what you have. Make a list of missing scenes. Decide on a character name. Etc. Small is good. Do the tasks that take no more than 5 minutes and see what kind of momentum that gives you.


What about you? What are tricks you use when you get stuck?