“Thinking about creating is about as useful as thinking about running.”
Now don’t get me wrong— there is a lot of productive thinking that goes into creating. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. You know what I mean… the kind of thinking that is really just fussing, fretting, worrying, guilting, and negotiating that has nothing to do with the project and everything to do with the ego feeling STUCK.
When I feel STUCK about a project that I was previously excited about, it’s almost always because I feel out of relationship with it. I feel outside of the mesmerizing flow it held for me last week or last month or last year. This feeling isn’t that different from what goes through my head when I’ve gone a few months (or years!) without contacting a friend. I make up all sorts of things about what they must think of me, and what a bad friend I am and what they’ll do when I finally reach out in a sad, guilty and apologetic way… When in reality they have just been off doing their life and not giving it any thought whatsoever, besides “Oh, yeah, it would be fun to reach out to Katherine.”
The good news is that (for me at least) the secret to re-discovering that magic “in-love-with-the-project” motivating elixir is just to get back in relationship with the project! And that means EASING back into it —more like “hi, how are you? I’ve missed you” than “I’m so tortured about not calling you …and do you think we can crank out this manuscript by lunchtime?!”
Stop Thinking… Start Doing
Easing back in relationship with a project can take many paths, and often looks more like a “back door” than a direct path to immediate creative productivity.
- re-read a draft and marinade in your project, rather than WORK ON it (Mmmm, I kind of like where you’re going with this. How about…)
- tell someone else about it (Oh, yeah! It’s actually pretty cool!)
- lay out all the pieces on the floor (Wow—I’m further along than I thought.)
- mess around with the materials (Ooo, this is kind of fun…)
- do just one easy thing (I just LOVE color coding the project folders!)
- list your fears/resentments about the project … (even the “dumb” ones!)
- free write about it for :15 minutes (Amazing! I actually have something to say about this.)
- invite the project itself to collaborate (What do YOU want to be, oh-project-of-mine?)
- read nice things people have said about you and your work (Aw Shucks- You people are why I do what I do…)
Your mindset changes everything
It’s actually not about what you do, but about where you are coming from that makes all the difference. As you begin to take action and get back in relationship with a project, consider your underlying mindset and how shifting it can change everything. Notice what happens when you are…
- more relational, less transactional (What do you have for me today, project?)
- more exploratory, less demanding (I wonder what would happen if…)
- more trusting, less fearful ( We’ll find our way through this…)
- more collaborative, less controlling (What’s next for YOU, dear project?)
- more playful, less pressure, (Oh that’s right –I do this because it’s fun!)
So, here’s my ah-ha in a nutshell: Am I showing up to my project as the kind of friend I would want to hang out with, play with, co-create with? And if I’m showing up fearful, frustrated, and demanding (like I do when I’m STUCK), what do I need to get back in relationship with my project (and my most creative self)?
Shifting the focus from my fears & frustrations (Why am I stuck again?, How will I ever make this work?) back to the PROJECT (what does it want to be? what does it need?) is a great approach to re-kindling a relationship with anyone.
So, what’s your project relationship secret? What works for you to get unstuck and get back in relationship with your projects? Let me know in the comments below or show me on Instagram! I love your comments and reply personally to every one.