Ah the dreaded road block. A complicated phenomenon composed of various bits of anxiety, loss of confidence, stress, deadline pressure, fear of failure, depression, and a variety of life's calamities - illness, death, debt, accidents, and needy friends, family, co-workers and bosses. In other words, every writer gets blocked in a different way for different reasons. I get blocked by distraction - email, computer games, requests for help and the endless need to promote my books. My psychology practice adds to the list - workshops to plan for and the travel involved getting there, conferences, volunteer work, and continuing education classes to keep my license current. Did I mention my long standing struggle with the misnamed attention deficit disorder, which is actually a disorder of too much attention to too many things at once.
My husband is a retired remodeling contractor turned photographer. Remodeling requires high levels of executive function to organize a complex array of tasks and people in an orderly timeline. No point in sheet rocking a wall before the plumbing and electrical wires have been installed. Executive function is located in the frontal lobe of the brain. It controls attention, inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, problem solving, and planning. It doesn't add to the creativity required to write a book, but it does control the necessary steps to get me in front of my computer. Once there, like other writers with ADD, when my attention is hooked, I go into a state of hyper-attention. The house could fall down around my ears and I wouldn't notice. Nor would I move my body without a timer to remind me to get up once an hour.
I recently felt blocked in my efforts to produce a second edition of my first (and best-selling) non-fiction book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know. The idea of sorting through a year's worth of collected research articles, emails, and saved clippings was overwhelming. The desk top of my computer was, like my brain often feels, so cluttered it looked like a Persian rug. I didn't know where to start, what to start on or what to do about my early morning coffee clatches with my husband or my water wiggling classes that three times a week took two hours out of the middle of the day. I had a deadline to make and I was losing too much sleep worrying about it. This is what I did and how I did it.
I hired myself to work from 8:00 a.m. to noon. No email, no computer games, no water wiggling, no husband until after 12:00 p.m. At which time I was on my own, free to do whatever. Work out at the Y, take a walk,
talk to my husband, binge on Bubble Spinner or take a nap. The results? So far so good.