In this episode I take you through some of the ways I try to overcome blocks, whether they are in writing or in other areas of life.
I really suffer from getting blocked. For example at the moment I am blocked in that I have been saying for ages I am going to create a Udemy Video Course. Udemy is a site for video training courses. It allows you to submit a video training course that other people can pay for. I’ve looked at most of the self-publishing courses on there and they aren’t in general that great in terms of the fundamentals, so it makes sense for me to create one.
Now I signed up for Udemy as an instructor at the end of October. How much have I done to date? 0%! Why? I’m blocked.
Why do we get blocked?
- Fear of the New – doing something that is a new activity requires you to change your routine and this is unsettling
- Fear of Success – are we sub-consciously worried that we might be successful and are worried that will make our friends hate us?
- Fear of Failure – if I do this I will fail and everyone will make fun of me.
- Don’t know where to start – this is the easiest to fix – you just need to find some training or a mentor.
- We are waiting for something – more money, “the right time”, something to become available.
It is often very hard to work out what the issue is. Some of these are fairly easy to fix – for example if you don’t know where to start with self-publishing then listening to this podcast and following the advice in my free e-mail course will give you a good idea how to start.
Of course, if I had actually created my Udemy course by now you could buy that as well!
Sometimes the reasons are hidden. Often people will say they are waiting for money or something when actually that is an excuse for a fear of failure.
Fear of Success is an interesting one as it is much more common and hidden than most of the other causes. We all consciously want to be successful, but often our unconscious is terrified because it associates success with other people. In your unconscious you might associate those successful other people with people you don’t like (people who post pictures of themselves with mansions and fast cars on Instagram for example!).
I can’t give you hard and fast answers here, as I still get blocked! However often by thinking about the issue you can work out some idea of the cause. If you just feel unprepared or you don’t know where to start then training or a mentor can be the answer. In many cases this is simply covering up another cause though.
To begin with you need to try to work out what the reason is behind the block – is it something simple like needing to take a training course?
Often you need to push through the block – this is akin to leaping into the dark. One way to make this leap easier is to make it with other people – this is where a mentor-based training programme can really work. I had a block about podcasting until I did Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcasting A-Z course. It wasn’t so much the technical knowledge I got, but the fact I was doing the activity with other people – making the leap of faith much less scary! I’ve also done this twice in NaNoWrimo – even though I have written novels before I still get blocked!
Another way to work around a block is to see it as an experiment, or as not very important. In some ways I did this with my first novella. It wasn’t that long and I wanted to see what self-publishing an eBook was like! This also made use of another principle – is there a small version of what you are trying to do that you could do first? Could you write and self-publish a novella or a short story first?
With my Udemy example, I could just create a very short Udemy video course first. The advantage of doing something small first is that for many of the reasons for blocks it helps, for example:
- Fear of the New – doing something small first means it won’t be as new the next time.
- Fear of Success – doing something small will show you don’t get massive success, and if you do then it will hopefully show that you don’t become like Instagram mansion-man!
- Fear of Failure – doing something small, even if you fail will show you that it really wasn’t that bad.
- Don’t know where to start – you will now know more and will probably have been forced to find the information you needed anyway.
- We are waiting for something – you’ve done something within your resources – was this really the problem?
Doing one or two of the personality tests online can help with working out ways to motivate you to overcome blocks. For example I took the 4 tendencies test on Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness site and discovered I was what is called an Obliger – someone motivated by external motivation (what people expect of me) and not internal motivation (e.g my own self-discipline).
This means that I know that I need accountability to ensure I do things. So in that vein – I am going to offer 25 of you a free version of my Udemy course, so that that you can hold me accountable for actually creating it. Udemy allows money-off vouchers so the first 25 people to sign up to my free e-mail course will also receive a 100% voucher off my Udemy course when it is available. After the first 25 I’ll send you a 50% voucher, as I don’t want anyone to feel too hard done by!
Hopefully this will let me overcome my block! I hope this show has been helpful for some of you facing blocks. The very act of thinking about a block can help – there are some people who are blocked and don’t even realise it. It isn’t just related to writing either – maybe this can help you with some other aspect of your life!
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