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Getting from Paralysis to the Zone, I’m not the Only One (NOT a “How To” Post)


When the topic in our Monday morning staff meeting turned to whose turn it was to write a post, I cringed. I knew mine was coming up, and for once, I wasn’t very gung ho about it. Typically, I love writing a blog post. It’s completely different writing from the content development I do for our customers, and gives me a little creative freedom. I even used to have my own personal blog, “back in the day.” (Do people even say that anymore?)

But this time, I felt the normal dread that Kelli and Teresa so adamantly vocalize every week. Frankly, I was sick of writing about social media, but didn’t have an idea of what else to break into. Nor did I have the time to really research a new topic.

We typically switch off busy periods at the office. One week web and design will be swamped and marketing will have a bit of a lull. Not dead, just not running full steam ahead. The next, we’ll switch. Recently, it’s felt like the marketing department has been the bottleneck for quite some time.

I’ve had a couple of large projects that have been the hold up for me. I haven’t been able to push past either one of them it seems, and that pressure has started to weigh me down. I finally made a breakthrough on the smaller of the two today, and after writing for several hours on this project today, I knew I was as far as I could go until I walked away for a few days. I already know I’m not happy with the headline and the first entire page – but I also know I need some distance before returning to look at it. So I printed it, stuck it in the folder, and will come back to it the end of the week.

I felt really good about the progress I’d made on the project – REALLY good about it – but I was exhausted. It was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I was completely exhausted. I tried to tell Heather I was “drained” from the work, but I was so mentally gone instead I told her I was “dawned.” After several seconds of being unable to pull the correct word out of my mouth, she took pity on me and suggested “spent?” I told her that wasn’t the word I was looking for, but definitely the definition.

Heather mentioned she’d had some writer’s block lately, and I, naturally, commiserated with her. (It’s a rule: someone says they have had writer’s block, you have to sympathize.) Which is when I got to thinking about my blog post.

I started doing a research on LinkedIn about “Writer’s block” and got some pretty standard results about how to “break through the block” via exercise, showering, doing something fun for five minutes, creative writing exercises, etc.

(Please note: I’m not knocking these suggestions. Everyone has something different that works for them. I just was not looking for the suggestions, though I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time.)

And then I came across an article   talking about “Writer’s Wall.” And while I think it’s quibbling over a “block” versus a “wall”, a couple of the comments on the article really jumped out at me. In particular, this one made me want to shout ‘That’s ME!’ at the top of my lungs.

“I struggle more with getting into the starting blocks on my big writing projects, several of which are in various states of existence. It’s not so much a wall…it’s my “possibilities paralysis”…which one to return to?”

Perhaps it’s because Red Sage is such a small company and I wear many hats, several of which don’t provide me with opportunities to shut out the rest of the world and just WORK. Perhaps it’s just my personality that makes getting started the hardest part. What I do know is that THIS is the perfect definition of what I’ve been facing lately.

The larger of my two big projects is really massive. And if I can’t carve out a couple hours at a time to work on it, I find that it keeps getting pushed to the backburner. Which then makes me more stressed about it, and less able to move past the paralysis I’ve been experiencing.

Another comment mentions “the zone.” And while all of these phrases may seem like clichés to you, to your typical writer, they exist and they’re real. He writes,

“If I don’t finish something while I’m “in the zone” then I can’t replicate the thought processes later and complete it.”

This has certainly been a factor with these large projects. The interruptions I mentioned before often make “getting in the zone” difficult. And if I should happen to get there and not finish even what I consider to be a large chunk of what I’m immediately focusing on, I struggle to remember where I was.

I didn’t find that any of the suggestions people tossed out for overcoming these to help me. I didn’t find I walked away from either my research or writing this post with any great epiphany to make writing easier. But for a few minutes in time, I at least remembered that I’m not the only one going through these very things.

Someone else wants to scream at the phone for ringing when they were getting to the good part of their sentence. Someone else has to shut off their e-mail so as not to be sidetracked by the 101 other things other people want her to do that day. Someone else glares at their co-workers for interrupting them. It didn’t get either of my projects finished for me, but for a little while, I felt better just remembering that I’m. Not. The. Only. One.

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