Just recently I heard a wise advisor talk about his approach to problem solving—a skill that we all grapple with. This led me to think about the different strategies we can apply when we face a problem in our writing. Here are a handful that sprang to mind:
Go within: As an experienced meditator, the wise advisor whose words prompted this post has a simple, but powerful strategy: he goes within, quiets his mind, and just listens. If he listens deeply, he often finds that what he called an “elegant solution” arises which he can then put into action. Sometimes the sequence of steps he should take even arranges itself into an intuitive, yet logical flow. I’ve often found this to be highly effective. When I listen with focus and intention, I often find that the best solution floats to the top of my consciousness. What a gift!
Go without: Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to gather ideas and information—to reach out for helps or additional resources. When I’m stuck, I often find that brainstorming with a trusted friend or my amazing sister Stephanie really helps. Suddenly a new idea comes my way—one I hadn’t thought of while I rummaged around in my own head. Sometimes this idea is an extension of one I already came up with and sometimes it’s entirely new. Either way, it’s a gift!
Go play: When I get stuck with a sticky problem I can’t seem to unravel, there’s a good chance it’s because I’ve been trying too hard. Straining my brain seldom works. When I feel this happening, my go-to strategy is to relax instead of resist. I do something that’s fun and playful—something that feels the opposite of pushing and problem solving. Releasing the problem often resolves it: When I least expect it, a solution—sometimes even an elegant solution!—pops into my head unbidden. You’ve experienced this I’m sure—and when it happens, another gift!
Go rogue: Sometimes, I need to drop a project that’s creating problems and just work on something completely different. When I do this, just as when I’m in play mode, I find that, by putting my focus elsewhere, I give my subconscious the time and freedom to come up with an answer. Ignoring the problem for a while somehow greases the wheels of my problem-solving skills and I find myself on the right track. A gift!
How about you? When you hit problem in your writing life, what steps do you take to solve it? I’d love to hear your strategies as we all write on!
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