Any writer, artist, or entrepreneur has hit it. In business, it shows up when you just can’t figure out how to get over the next hurdle. It’s the halt on a project. Pure friction.
You’ve hit The Wall.
And we’re not talking about Wall Street here. In fact its quite the opposite: this wall will cause you to go broke FAST.
CRASHING INTO THE WALL
The wall happens in two points of an endeavor:
1.) The Beginning: In the beginning there are already a ton of problems. You’ll start off hyper excited about your new project. Looking forward to the art and writing of it. Excited to meet new costumers and clients. Then… WHACK. You hit The Wall.
Lack of direction: Chances are that when you hit The Wall early in a project, it’s due to a lack of direction. You’ll have the willingness to move, just no idea where that spot is. To overcome this try one of two things: Find an outside influencer to help you, such as a mentor, or, make sure you make an outline for the project. These are lessons I learned from writing. I hired a writing coach (AKA a mentor) and the first thing my writing coach taught me? To outline.
Creative Problems: Maybe you know the next step. You’re working with a mentor who is telling you the next move, but to your horror the realization sets in that you don’t have all the pieces to create the picture outlined by your outside influence. Coincidentally, outlining can help here as well–but there is one hard, real answer. Get out the sledgehammer and break through it the hard way.
The last creative wall I hit in my business was setting up “Profit First” business accounts as described by Mike Michalowicz in his book, Profit First. My problem? My name wasn’t even on my business account. My wife and I are business partners so she has taken care of the business account since we’ve started. The weak point there was that I would have to scrape this financial account work from my plate onto hers–and her plate is already full. To get through it we had to fight The Wall head on: we went to the bank as soon as we could and added my name to the account.
It sounds stupid, but a half hour trip to the bank delayed financial business progress for our business for over a week.
2.) The Mid Point: In the midpoint your venture has already become familiar with The Wall. That’s why at this point it’s less of a wall, and more of a sludge that sticks to the bottom of your shoes. This is called, “Creative Slowdown” and has three main components:
- Tools and Infrastructure: After continued work on your endeavor you’ve discovered that you’re going to need some specialized tools and infrastructure to make continued progress. While this is normal, it doesn’t mean it won’t slow down your work. Look for best practices in the field and write down the difficulties you are having. After noting your difficulties: search for solutions to address them. Then move forward.
- Inspiration and Imitation Avoidance: A funny thing about humans (and something I respect) is the need for uniqueness. We want to be the attention of the room. To be relevant and fresh. A project to call our own. This leads to a lot of great progress for mankind, but also to a problem: avoidance of best practices. I recently wrote about the importance of inspiration, and our most modern studies prove that inspiration comes from imitation. Wanna get through the sludge? Watch others do it.
- Distraction: Interestingly, after beating down wall, after wall, and things are just finally getting easier–we get ourselves into trouble as fast as we can. I’ve done this more times than I can count: and there is an obvious way out: cut your distractions. This comes in the form of saying “no.” Say “no,” and say it very often, or you’ll never get anywhere.
WAYS TO BREAK THE WALL
Take Action: Seriously, just go straight at it. This is for sure the most effective way to break through the wall. Stuck in writing? Write anyway–that’s what Stephen King does. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.
Break it into Small Pieces: The Wall might look huge–but not if you break it into smaller pieces. Cut it up and name each part (like humans did when identifying parts of the human body) and then tackle each part on it’s own.
Change of Pattern: This is akin to Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.” Maybe you need to attempt to solve the issue from a different place, position, or angle. Write in a coffee shop, or near a mountain range. Take a vacation and think about the problem. Try to build your problem out of clay–anything to get different neurons firing at The Wall.
The Wall WILL show up. When it does–don’t flee. Take it head on–you must remember that just like in any fantasy adventure story: The Treasure is hidden BEHIND the dragon. For us, that means just behind The Wall is the reward we’ve earned. Whatever you do, don’t give up before you reap what you’ve sown.