How easy it is to get stuck

I won’t lie. I get stuck often. When people see how much I’ve created over the last 7 years, they can get overwhelmed. What they don’t see are all my stuck projects.

How does a creative person get stuck? All too easily!

It usually starts with thinking about the overwhelming tasks involved with a project. On my last blog post, I showed a picture of my animation character. I mentioned I’d been working on it for some time. Yeah, I thought about it (read that as: “I was stuck on it”) all last year. I kept thinking, “I need to do a script. I need to the character. I need to do the background. I need to think about voice actors — Ack! where I am going to find those (even though I already know how, it was still a thought)? I’ll need to get everything animated. Don’t forget intro and credit screens. Music? And don’t forget voice actors!”

Stuck, stuck, stuck! Like a car rammed into a ditch, a muddy one filled with water! Being a farm girl, I know that one. I’ve seen tractors stuck in the mud up to their axles. Oh yeah, I know about stuck.

So what can you do about it?

First off, stop thinking about it. Easier said than done, but stop. It does help if you can remember what first inspired you to work on a project. For me, I got an email that made me laugh and I remembered why I wanted to do this project (more on that as the animation develops). Now, here’s where most people will tell you to schedule time to work on the project. Let me tell you how well that worked for me: I spent 3 months with “Design character” sitting on my to do list. Have I even written the first script yet? No. I have designed an intro though. Unfortunately, I was inspired to do all those, even when I got the idea for the character, it came in a flash of brilliance.

So does that mean that you should just sit back and wait for inspiration?

No. All this time I was collecting ideas. I have an extensive note file because there’s going to be more than one animation. I did the intro, as I mentioned. I did try to block time and I did keep those appointments, even though they were unproductive for this project at that time. When I had a better grip on it by knowing what my character was going to look like, that’s when I got down to work. I did reach the tipping point. Now is when I need to be scheduling my time — before this, I really was better knowing it was a sideline project and letting flashes come to me as they did to build material while working on other things. So, don’t force yourself to think and work on a project until it’s truly time, especially if you’ve got other irons in the fire. Just keep gathering ideas as they come. When the time is right to begin, you will know.

I sit here now, unstuck, with a bare character designed, several ideas, an intro sequence I still have to animate, no first script, and no idea what I’m going to do for voices. Does that bug me? No. I’m working on it. It’s a process, a journey. It’ll come together piece by piece now. I know what needs to be done. I know what I want to do. The project is still in the wings, but isn’t completely off the stage anymore. Soon it’ll be front and center in the spotlight. I’m not ready for it to be there yet.

Getting unstuck with a project means growing with it. It grows and you grow.

Do I have other projects that I’m stuck on? A ton of them! I can’t even begin to count how many other things I’d love to be moving forward with at this moment. All of them! It’s hard for me to be stuck — I don’t deal with it very well. In fact, I have a tendency to fight it. I know this about myself. There are so many things I want to do. I know I’ll never get them all done.

If this hasn’t been enough to get you unstuck, you can always remember that if you don’t get moving, you may not have a chance to.

My final motivation (and usually the thought that spurs me into action on a project that’s been hanging around my head too long): you will be dead longer than you are alive. How would you really feel about never completing this project?