Oh, boy.

You know I’ve been stuck for a while.

I’ve been trying to work on my latest documentary, Good Thing, for quite a while now. More specifically, how to get unstuck so I can give the project the attention it needs and finally finish the film. I love this film and want to give it some love but I simply can’t seem to get it done…

Today I’m sharing some of my efforts – in case you’re trying to get unstuck, too.

1. Leave the Project Alone

It sounds counter-intuitive.

But one thing that works really well for me is leaving the project alone for a little while. You’re not abandoning it. You’ll be back to it when the time is right.

By shifting your focus away from the project, you let your subconscious mind take over for a while. That thing is a great problem solver. It’ll work through the problems when you’re focused on other stuff and you’ll have some pretty big revelations soon enough.

2. Start a New Hobby

When you shift your focus, you may need to find a new creative outlet.

By not working on my film, I usually find something newly fascinating. While trying to get unstuck so that I can finish Good Thing, I’ve been working on decorating sugar cookies. Baking has become this beautiful, rewarding creative outlet for me.

What’s cool about finding a new hobby is stepping into a new world. You discover a new group of people, doing cool things, and discovering what’s important to them. It’s a lot of fun.

It’s not wasted, either. This time spent on a new hobby, developing new skills, and building new relationships could lead to lots of cool things. I believe everything is connected and all lessons learned are valuable. I’m a lifelong learner.

Your new hobby could inspire a character in your scripted film. You could meet someone who becomes the next subject of your documentary. You could feel the freedom of simply creating for the joy of creating – without the pressure of making it profitable, the best you’ve ever done, or acclaimed by your industry.

It’s very freeing.

3. Revisit Your Why

I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on my why:

  • Why am I making movies?
  • Why is this specific story important?
  • Why am I the best person to tell this story?
  • Why should this story be told right now?
  • Why would someone want to watch this movie?

Your why is a very powerful thing. Simon Sinek wrote a book about it. I’ve watched his TED Talk (“How great leaders inspire action“) a few hundred times.

Yeah, man.

I spend a lot of time in that head space.

Because my style or this season of filmmaking is fueled by straight-up passion. I don’t tell these stories for the glory, awards, recognition, or profits right now. I am loyal to the story, my calling, and the chance to use my voice to (hopefully) make a positive difference the world.

Side note. Of course, I do hope to make a profit on the general practice of storytelling – so that I can keep telling stories, hiring my cast/crew, and elevating my craft as a storyteller. It’s important that you earn an income from telling stories so that you can take care of your family and continue telling stories. It’s too tough to make art / documentaries when you’re starving.

So when I get stuck, I spend more time honoring the why’s:

  • Why did I start this project?
  • Why is this story important?
  • What difference will it make?
  • Who will live a better life because of this film?
  • Who will change their habits / behaviors if they watch this film?
  • Why am I uniquely qualified to tell this story right now?
  • What makes this story unique, in comparison to the other films on the same subject matter?

Don’t get these things confused with ego.

These are very humbling questions. They help me realize that I am but a tiny person in a big ole world, doing this work in a very blip of a moment in our universe’s history. It makes the work less precious. This, weirdly enough, relieves the pressure and makes it easier to finish the project.

Conclusions

Most creative people get stuck. If you keep working, you’ll get that project finished if it’s meant to be. Don’t give up.

What do you do?

When you get stuck, what do you do to get past the blocks? I’d love to hear what you’ve used to get unstuck so you can keep working on your projects – even if they’re not films. Use the comments and tell me what you think!

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