Are you making progress towards your goals or do you seem stuck? Have things been going well but then suddenly you hit a wall? Recently in the 100 Day Challenge there was a discussion about ‘the wall’, that invisible barrier to your progress. I want to share the following tips on how you can get past the wall and continue on toward your desired destination.
In the 1990s I spent time studying the professional songwriting industry in Nashville. As a novice songwriter, I would sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and wait for inspiration to hit. I frequently ran into ‘the wall’ called writer’s block. At times it was difficult to get over. I wanted to find out how the professional songwriters do it (In the 100 Day Challenge, we learn we should find someone who has already done what we want to do and find out how they did it). I learned that professional songwriters get up, eat breakfast and then write for 4 hours, then stop, eat lunch and then write for 4 more hours, then stop, eat dinner and then spend the evening doing something they enjoy (which for many was performing or going to watch someone else perform). So then the question became – How in the world do they write 8 hours a day when I can’t seem to write at all (In the 100 Day Challenge we are always told us to ask questions and ask better questions). Through several conversations, workshops and seminars, I learned about the specific activities pro songwriters used during those 8 hours that made them creative and productive. I learned exercises that taught me how to write about any object, person or situation by finding the unique quality or value in it and how to make something interesting out of something simple. Many of the exercises were like this – Write down 50 song titles about a fork, you have 5 minutes – go. At first you feel lost on how to get started and your mentor would soon interrupt you, tell you how you are thinking about the wrong thing, now start thinking of creative song titles about a fork (write anything and everything), you have 4 minutes, now GO. It’s a complete brainstorm session with no evaluation. Here are all of the ideas, options and things you can come up with. With the different exercises you learn to quit focusing on the wall and start working. I learned that professional songwriting is a job. They are not paid to wait around for creativity to strike, they are paid to produce results and they have to see it as a job and get working. It’s a challenge. It’s a contest with yourself. You push yourself to get 50 titles in 5 minutes and towards the end you write down the wackiest and less thought out ideas in order to reach your deadline. The more I practiced the techniques, the better I became and the easier it was to write and the wall disappeared.
Here are some tips about getting past ‘the wall’ in your life.
In a 100 Day Challenge lesson we learn how to raise the bar, where we need new methods to get over higher hurdles. Once I had new songwriting methods I could easily write when before I couldn’t. I had to find a new way in order to improve my results. I didn’t know enough. I had to work smarter and not harder or longer. See how you can apply this in your life.
Second – I had to find the experts, the people who did not have trouble with the wall like I did, the people who know what methods would help me get over the wall. Determine who can help you get past the wall.
Third – I had to ask the right questions of the experts to know exactly what they did and what exactly I needed to do. Just knowing the right people is not enough, we must ask the right questions. What questions should you ask yourself and your mentor that will help you get past the wall?
Fourth – I had to believe I could get past the wall. It’s very hard to listen to a professional songwriter and hear them say they do not get writer’s block and believe that it’s possible. At first it was hard to believe. If any of you remember watching the Mac Davis show many moons ago, he was a Nashville songwriter who hosted a musical variety show on TV and at the end he would sit in front of the crowd and ask someone to give him the name of three objects and he would take a few seconds and then sing a short song which included those three objects. He would do that with three different people to end each show. We have to say to ourselves, if he can do it, so can I (and if you don’t know how then call him up and say hey how do you do that).
Last – We need to be physically and mentally ready before we will get past the wall. We must believe but we must also be ready for the challenge and in shape for the next level. If you were asked to run a marathon today, how many of us would run into a wall? Why would we? Maybe because we don’t run, we are not prepared, we are not ready, we are not in shape, we are not physically able to get past the wall that will probably come. It’s the same with writing songs eight hours a day. I had to work up to it and build up the creative capacity and inspirational stamina. Determine what you must improve that will help you get past the wall.
There are times in your life when you will run into a wall. Your pursuit of success will seem to be non-existent. Use these tips to help you get over the wall and back on the road to your success.