Getting Unstuck
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
August 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
August 2018

Today's guest post comes from Cheryl Suchors, the author of 48 Peaks: Hiking and Healing in the White MountainsLike any other writer, Cheryl knows that getting stuck while writing is inevitable and offers her fellow authors tips to get out of their writing funks.

All writers get stuck, whether it’s the dilemma of how to extract a character out of a corner we’ve painted them into, a recalcitrant character who just isn’t working, what to say next, finding the best ending or a total writer’s block.

Word of advice? Take a hike.

Walk in Nature

Okay, you don’t actually have to hike, but do get out into nature. Even in the city, walk along the sidewalk and instead of listening or reading something on your phone or worrying about what you haven’t accomplished, notice the trees. Pat their trunks. Look up into their bare branches or leafy canopies. What color is the sky? What do the shapes of the clouds remind you of?

If you can find yourself a park, or an arboretum, even better. Just walk, and breathe. A study done at the University of Utah shows that after two groups, one without cell phones and one told to talk on their phones, walked for the same amount of time in an arboretum in the city,  their brain waves were different. It took more than twenty minutes for the brains of those using their phones to calm down. The brains of the group not using phones showed deep patterns of rest. They had rested their brains and went back to their tasks with refreshed, more nimble brains.

Get High

Climb something: a mountain, a hill, even the highest floor in a tall building. The sense of being able to see far and wide calms the jittery or anxious nervous system. I speculate that this is because we are animals; we feel safer from predators when we can see great distances, when we can see what’s coming. From up high, it’s also easier to feel a sense of expansiveness, of bounty and abundance. Problems begin to feel smaller as they are, literally, put into perspective.

Move

If you can, get outdoors, walk comfortably but with some dispatch, letting your arms swing naturally at your sides. Take deep breaths. Feel your heart beat faster as you move. Delight in feeding more oxygen to your body, to your brain. Revel in the fact that you can do all the million tiny things necessary to move from place to place. Begin to feel grateful for this body that you have, for what it can do, whatever it can do. Let yourself find a natural rhythm, your own pace, and enjoy it, with your awareness inside your body and outside of your head. Return to writing with a freshly-oxygenated body and mind that are calmer, more satisfied.

Look Around

As you walk, see if you can find inspiration. Do you see a weed determinedly growing from a crack in the sidewalk? Is there a wildflower blossoming between two boulders? What about that tree that began life atop a giant rock and whose roots now curl around the rock down to the ground to find the nourishment it needs? Can you be the weed, the wildflower, the tree? Or can you model yourself after the inchworm that goes so slowly yet perseveres, no matter what?

Outdoors, life persists despite all obstacles. So, too, can we writers when we let nature teach, inspire, and refresh us.

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