Don’t stop now! What to do when you get stuck in the info product muck

by | May 24, 2010


So you’ve gotten over your allergy to the very idea of an info-product. You’ve worked through the issues that used to keep you from starting one.

And now you’ve actually made a beginning. But guess what? You’re starting to go round in circles. Or maybe you’ve just plain stopped. (Or not. If this isn’t you, you get a free pass and don’t need to read this article. Why not pass it on to a friend who is struggling?)

What’s really happening when you get stuck

This may not make you feel a whole lot better, but it’s quite natural to get stuck in the middle of creating an info product. What you are experiencing is a natural (and temporary) stage of the creative process, not an ongoing manifestation of deep-seated flaws in your personality.

So here’s what’s really going on.

The gap revisited

Creating an info product is all about closing the gap between what you want to make and where you are right now. The thing is, both sides of the gap shift as soon as you take action. Your starting point moves with every step, and your end point gets more or less clear in a maddening kind of Alice in Wonderland way.

Is it any wonder you lose your bearings? (If only there were a mushroom you could nibble on to bring everything into perfect focus!)

As you adapt to the shifting nature of the gap, you may run into one or more of these problems:

  • creative overdrive.
  • enoughness blindness.
  • garden variety fear and doubt.

Creative overdrive: too much of a good thing is too much

The gap can be incredibly stimulating. Your creative self starts to rock and roll with the constantly changing landscape. The bright shiny object syndrome you worked out in the beginning comes back. “Wouldn’t it be cool…?” and “What if…?” multiply until your brain is on fire with new possibilities.

It’s fun until you realize that you’re not making any progress. You’re lost in a sea of infinite possibility.

Enoughness blindness: when there’s no such thing as enough of a good thing

A companion to creative overdrive is blindness to what constitutes enough. Enough angles on your topic. Enough answers for all the possible questions a reader could have. Enough explanation. Enough encouragement. Enough detail. Enough options. Enough beauty, truth, and goodness.

This is partly about attachment to the ideas generated by creative overdrive and partly fear of, well, fear of not being and delivering enough.

Enough said.

Garden variety fear and doubt: another blinkin’ opportunity for personal growth

There’s nothing like over-stimulation and attachment for bringing up your issues. Somehow the more creative you are, the louder the inner critics get. This makes it really, really hard to lift your boots out of the muck and move on.

Having seen how easy it is to get stuck, let’s look at what you can do about it.

9 tips for getting out of the info product muck

  1. Reframe what’s going on as a natural part of the creative process. This is also known as getting a grip. Nowhere is is written that this process is supposed to be smooth.
  2. Manage creative overdrive by returning to your original plan. What did you intend to create? What message did you plan to deliver? If your topic still doesn’t come into focus, it’s probably too big. Choose one aspect and revise your product to cover only that.
  3. Manage enoughness blindness by returning to your outline. (You do have one, right?) Break down your product or program into three main topics. Break each topic down into 5-7 take-aways. Break each take-away down into 3-5 bullet points. Your outline defines enoughness.
  4. Bring your body into it. Notice where you may be experiencing fear or anxiety. Allow space for tension between where you are and where you are going. This will actually pull you forward.
  5. Move. Get up and go for a walk. Put on some music and dance. Movement helps break up stuck patterns and gets more oxygen to your overheated brain.
  6. If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What part of this, specifically, is overwhelming?” When you see the specific sticking point, you will usually see a way around it.
  7. When you feel confused or disoriented, run a mental movie of the experience you want to deliver with your finished work. Connect vividly to the end result and you’ll gather confidence and momentum.
  8. Don’t confuse feeling competent with being competent. You can feel confused, inadequate, and just not in the mood for creating and still do good work. Acknowledge your feelings, then take one single step forward. Repeat.
  9. Don’t edit as you write. Creating and editing are different functions. They use different parts of the brain and call on different skill sets. As Anne Lamott recommends, do a shitty first draft and then revise.

You can do this

It’s perfectly natural, even appropriate, to get stuck in the middle of creating an info product. Don’t be misled by feeling you can’t do this. Take a break, then assess where you are stuck. Apply as many of the 9 tips as needed. You WILL break through.
Photo credit: disownedlight via Flickr
Under a Creative Commons License