There are times when you’re working on a particularly difficult project when you might find you’ve worked yourself into a corner. During those stressful times, maintaining excellence at your usual standards can be trying indeed. It can feel as if the well of brilliant ideas you’ve been drawing from and pouring into your work has suddenly dried up, and you’re left with nothing but mud and grit in the bottom of the bucket.
There’s a moment of panic that goes with that feeling, particularly if you’re working under a tight deadline. That’s fine. It’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, and nothing to really worry about. After a few slow breaths, the feeling will fade and your pulse will return to normal, so just let it run its course and all will be well.
When you’ve gotten back to something resembling a bit of calm, it’s time to tackle the real problem, which is how to go about refilling the well. The ideas are there, buried somewhere in your subconscious, but during times when you’re tired or stressed they just aren’t as easily accessible as they normally would be. The longer you go without being able to produce, the more stressed you get, and the less likely you are to be able to unleash the full power of your creativity when you need it.
So how do you go about breaking through that wall?
During a multi-course meal, it’s not unusual to be offered a palate cleanser to neutralize your taste buds between dishes, thus enhancing the flavor of the next delicacy. These foods are generally along the lines of various fruit sorbets, pickled ginger, or really anything with a bit of tartness to it. When having trouble completing a certain phase of a project, a mental palate cleanser can refresh your mind in much the same way.
Spend a few minutes taking a shot at finishing a puzzle. Sudoku, crosswords, and other assorted brain teasers are excellent ways to relax while stimulating your imaginative capabilities.
You could always reorganize your workspace, which serves as a distraction that results in a removal of distractions. That’s pretty deep if you don’t think about it too much, and if that’s what you’re doing, you’re probably a bit too distracted and should get back to work immediately.
You might want to try taking some time out to brainstorm ideas for use in other aspects of your project. This in particular has the added benefit of cutting down on the chances of the same sort of struggles in the future.
Even something as simple as going out for lunch can work wonders when it comes to replenishing your creativity, and not just because of the calories involved. As we’ve mentioned before, a change of location is sometimes all it takes to get things going in a positive direction.
It’s far better to take ten minutes out of your day to sweep out the cobwebs than it is to spend hours staring at the screen in the hopes that something brilliant will magically appear in the midst of whatever internal crisis you’re accidentally building up to. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how much water the well still has left to give.