Getting Through the Creative Doldrums (How to Get Unstuck)

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This is an episode about everyone’s least favorite part of the creative process: getting stuck. And as I look back on this process, it’s a topic that’s incredibly appropriate — because I’ve never had more trouble writing an episode than I did with this one.

So what did I do to get unstuck?

 

  • I ate a bowl of the beer nuts that are served at my co-working space.
  • I stared at the wall.
  • I switched tables multiple times.
  • I ate more beer nuts.
  • I went to the coffee shop across the street and bought a kombucha.
  • I ate more beer nuts.

In other words, this episode was powered by beer nuts. But there are better ways to respond to creative blocks. A big theme from the interviews in this episode: Get yourself moving. Whether it’s a trail run, yoga class, or a few laps on a snowboard, doing something active is so incredibly helpful — and it’s a lot better for your waistline, too.

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Self-Reliance

John Jantsch is president of Duct Tape Marketing and author of “The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.” The book is a series of daily devotionals and exercises specifically tailored for entrepreneurs. As a unique take on the business book, it draws from transcendentalist thought to help entrepreneurs better focus their efforts.

But what does self-reliance actually mean? Some might associate it with living like a hermit in a remote cabin, chopping wood and taking baths in a backyard pond, but for John it’s a lot simpler — and maybe less physically taxing. “You don’t have to listen to others,” he says. “You need to listen to yourself and follow your own path.”

To John, self-reliance ultimately comes down to control — specifically losing it. Here’s how he puts it: “You trust yourself so thoroughly that first off you allow yourself to explore ideas that other people are saying are crazy,” he says. “And you also allow yourself to let go of the control that you have over how you believe something ought to come out.”

“I believe that the self-reliant entrepreneur is going to save the world.”

Sometimes You’re More Than Just Stuck

Jessica Holmes is a comedian and mental health advocate who wrote “Depression — The Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance.

Jessica says she suffered through a five-year depression, an affliction that may sound familiar to creatives. Creative work can take a mental toll, and getting stuck can become something that extends beyond your professional life and into your personal life. “It’s just a horrible feeling,” Jessica says.

As part of her recovery, Jessica has embraced being outdoors more. She tries to have meetings in parks, for instance, rather than a coffee shop. But a big point of emphasis for her is that those suffering from mental health issues need to realize they’re not alone. Finding someone to share your experiences with is incredibly important. Jessica, for example, belongs to a private Facebook group where she can vent about her experiences working as a speaker. She’s found it enormously helpful. “I’m more open knowing that I’m one of thousands who go through this kind of thing,” she says. “You don’t feel hopeless or desperate, and you understand that this is simply a cyclical part of the job.”

“Reaching out and connecting to like-minded individuals goes such a long way.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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Rex New was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for co-writing Dance Camp, YouTube's first original film. He is a proud Louisiana native.

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