Have you ever set a goal for yourself, like, “I’ll finish this story by X date,” and then realized your mind’s gone blank?
Yeah, me too.
I wanted to have the next chapter of The Night Is a Harsh Mistress today, and set that as my goal. Then, when I sat down to write, my mind went blank because I worried about whether it will be any good. Rather than fight the goal, I figured I’d chat about what works for me for getting around it.
First, be careful about what goals you do accept. If you know that setting your expectations can tend to block you, then be selective about what goals you do try to struggle for.
Second, set small goals for doing the work. For example, try using a timer and set it for 30 minutes. Even if you just stare at your computer for that 30 minutes, (and no cheating on Facebook or garbage surfing), see what happens.
Third, if that doesn’t work, try sitting with your journal for a while. Write about why you don’t want to work on your goal. Write all the nasty, petty, complaining little putsy comments that you can think of. Sometimes, just getting them out there can help.
Fourth, try something else. If you have another craft, like knitting, do that for a bit just to get moving creatively. Or, try a blog post, like this, for example.
Fifth, give yourself permission to fail. By the time it got to be dinnertime, I realized I wasn’t going to get the chapter done today. Instead, I decided to be honest and write about my block, and in the process, came up with some ideas for how to get around them. It doesn’t make my goal happen, but it does keep me moving in the right direction – and that, in and of itself, can help you.
Above all, remember we are all imperfect beings. It’s not about the goals you accomplish, but the journey you take along the way. As they say, you win some, you lose some. Just keep moving forward and you might be startled by how many you start finishing.