Escaping Mental Quicksand by Cate Russell-Cole

Have you ever had a writing idea that just won’t come together, or a goal you want to achieve but can’t bring yourself to act on just yet? It could be a book you only manage to half write, an experimental change of genre in your writing or some opportunity which is outside your current experience. You may find yourself stalling. Or you may be frustrated when you start to work on that project, but it just seems to keep falling apart or halting, and you’re not sure why.

Is it because it’s just not your area? Do you have writer’s block? Are you being lazy? Are you a failure? Is it fear holding you back? It could be some of those things, or it could be that all the resources you need are just not in place yet. Perhaps it is a waiting game that will get you there if you’re patient.

There is a theory in psychology called the “time of readiness,” which states that unless a child has reached a point in their physical development where they can try a new skill, such as crawling or walking, no amount of of pushing or imposed practice will get them there. They just won’t get it! There are some things in life you just can’t rush. Any kind of growth takes it’s own time.

I believe that the same principle works in a similar way in many areas of our lives as we continue to challenge ourselves to achieve in new areas. Personal growth is the key, whether that growth is of a mental, emotional, physical or spiritual nature.

We are often not able to make certain forward jumps until something clicks in our hearts and heads. Of course, the underlying problem may actually be writer’s block generated by feeling unsure or fearful that is holding you back. Even so, perhaps there will soon be an optimum time where you can overcome that hurdle. Just as long as you aren’t using fear as an excuse and you are actively working on trying to advance.

Action is the key. If you’re not working towards your goal in some way, then time of readiness is probably not the answer.

Good luck and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.


Cate Russell-Cole

11 thoughts on “Escaping Mental Quicksand by Cate Russell-Cole

  1. I often find I’m most productive in ONE area when I’m avoiding forward motion elsewhere. Taking a break (stalling, LOLZ!) and coming back when time of readiness is upon me often yields the best results. In the meantime, all my laundry and dishes are caught up, and I’ve made another scrapbook page. Oh well. At least while I was waiting out my muse (stalling, LOLZ!), I was both productive and creative in other areas. Great advice — thanks! 🙂

    1. Thanks Andi-Roo. I often find that going and doing some brainless activity really helps. The old brain needs breathing space to rest and draw it’s own conclusions in the subconscious. We know we need to rest our bodies, we forget that the brain takes more energy to run than any other organ and sometimes needs a change of pace too.

      Good luck with your writing.

  2. This was both an inspiring and encouraging post Cate. I’m not sure about writer’s block, but I must say that my creativity has been crushed by a lot of stress. That, I never expected. It has sucked the energy out of me, thus very little writing is getting done. But I’m not giving up. I believe things happen when they’re supposed to happen. Loved your post. Great job. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Karen, stress is the great killer of everything! At the moment my stress level is high and I just can’t focus on anything creative, so I know where you’re coming from.

      I love your attitude. Never give up! Enjoy your journey.

  3. Cate, appreciate your honest look at those tendencies to, shall we say, procrastinate in our writing. This was motivating and encouraging as I work my way through my hiatus waiting for the words to come again after the sorrow and pain have healed completely. Physically, I’m much stronger than in December when we first arrived home. And emotionally, I’m almost there. So, I’m working on writing a couple of book reviews this week and posting them on my sites and I may dabble in my draft memoir here in a day or two. You’ve sort of fired me up! Thanks! 🙂

    1. It’s been lovely watching you slowly move back into things Sherrey. Your time will come. Your passion is too strong for you to lose ground. Hang in there, we’re cheering you on.

  4. This take was very interesting. I do think there is some advice that simply wouldn’t have made sense to me early on my writing; I wasn’t ready for it. This year my focus is moving forward. We move at different speeds, based on readiness, but I have stagnated in the past. But this year, I want to keep moving to the next level. Great post!

    1. Go for it Julie. You’ve made a great point about everyone moving at different speeds. I may steal that idea for a future blog post. 🙂

      I’ve found ROW80 brilliant to help me avoid stagnation. I hope you find the same. Just keep on going! You can do it.

  5. I love this. I know this happens in so many parts of my life–even the books I decide to read (not write, well, that too) some of my favorite books are ones I tried to read a few times, but just wasn’t ready for! So why wouldn’t this be true in other parts of my life?

    And advice? Oy. Thanks for this.

    1. Amy I am really pleased this was encouraging. I know what you’re saying about putting books down and then being able to pick them up when the time is right. I don’t know why this theory hasn’t been more widely applied than child development. It just fits!

      Good luck with your creative journey. I hope you thrive.

  6. I can certainly relate to this. My biggest patch of “mental quicksand,” is the “I’ve done this before,” and I feel either too tired, or most likely, too lazy to get myself out of that particular rut. The sad thing is, once I do, I find myself more agile mentally and I have better dexterity and am quicker with my word choices, although I am not necessarily less verbose! I do enjoy the journey; perhaps too much. My opening in my post yesterday was “Goals, schmoals.” I kinda think that might be my standard. I’m having too much fun!

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