I find it fascinating that so many of us can hear something a million times—eat better! Exercise! Don’t sit down all day!—yet it doesn’t quite sink in until we’re ready to believe it.
We can take in an alarming amount of information without changing a thing, and then one day, the lightbulb switches on and we say, “WHOA! I need to exercise! No, seriously, hey you, I need to exercise. So do you. Stop slacking!”
And just to be clear, I’m counting myself absolutely as a firm member of this camp. I do the same thing—I know something to be true, but dang it, I just can’t do it until something convinces me.
I grew up with a mother who encouraged us to take a walk whenever times got tough (or, I suspect, when we got a bit too loud—and I don’t blame her for that one). She firmly believed that fresh air, the space to think, and nothing to distract us (no book, no sibling drama, no homework) would do the trick every time.
I’m thirty-two, and it took me until a couple of years ago for the message to really sink in, for me to become the one that says, “Hey you, you’re struggling with something? Take a walk! No really, you need to. Do it. Stop slacking!” (Better late than never, right?) And now it’s time for me to pass along this advice to you! But instead of just saying, “Take a walk,” I’m going to be a bit more specific. (And, of course, hope it sinks in eventually.)
I find that I have the hardest time creating content when I’ve just switched over from another mentally challenging task.
I’m already tired and my creativity and attention span are usually drained, so the experience is often a negative one. What I’ve learned, which is such a simple solution that I sometimes laugh at myself for taking so long to get here: pause before you write.
Take a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. Play with your cat. (Don’t have a cat? I have three, ahem, very well-behaved kitties you can borrow.) Do something that relaxes you or engages your brain in a different way, even for just a few minutes, before you try to write.
And hey, I know it may take you a while to believe this. No worries. The idea will be there when you're ready. (After all, I can't make you!)