How to push through whether or not it’s the right direction.
You’ve probably read or at least noticed those articles out there that try to help you get unstuck when you’ve found that you can’t make any more progress in something. They provide tips like taking a break, going on a walk, or coming back to the project after a few days, but one that I’ve read and even wrote myself is to simply “keep going.”

It’s something that sounds almost impossible when you’re at that point. How do you keep moving if you’re stuck? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

While I was designing the Whitewash Studio logo, I came to a point where I wasn’t making much progress, and to get over that hump, I finally realized what it means to “just keep moving.”

I admitted to myself I was stuck

I was only in the thumbnail stage and had already been brainstorming and thumbnailing for a handful of days. I had done so much in fact, that I ended up filling four pages in my Moleskine sketchbook.

Now, even with as many ideas (and they were quite various), I just knew I hadn’t found the right direction and I wasn’t making much progress anymore. After spending so much time already without finding the answer, I was getting a little concerned. How did my process that had worked so many times before not work this time? Well, that’s a topic for another day.

As I sat there looking through my thumbnails, I realized that I needed to change things up. I needed to find some way to start building momentum. Maybe my idea wasn’t coming to me because I had been doing the same thing (thumbnailing) for the past few days that my brain was just stuck at that part of the process.

So, what did I do? I moved onto the next stage of the process.

Moving on knowing I was wrong

Even though I knew it wasn’t the right direction, I picked one idea from my thumbnails and drew it out. I treated it like it was the right solution and took my time to draw out a large scale version of the sketch.

Once I was finished, I wasn’t satisfied. The layout wasn’t that good and it just didn’t feel right. So, I picked another idea out of my sketchbook and I drew a larger scale version of that sketch as well.

What happened as I worked on both of these drawings was I realized what wasn’t good about them and was starting to come up with new ideas and sketching them in my sketchbook. I kept it opened next to me on my desk as I was drawing out these larger scale drawings that I knew weren’t the right solution for my client.

I was making progress again

What I found really interesting was that after a couple of drawings, I was building momentum. The third drawing ended up being enough of a tip in the right direction. I started to realize something that would be a great design for my client. Even though that third design wasn’t quite there, I was on my way to creating the right design.

The fourth drawing ended up being enough for me to move on to the computer. Then I was off to the races finally in the right direction with all of the momentum I needed to finish the project.

Even the slightest move forward is progress

So, how was I able to get unstuck? It was by making that first move forward. I was stuck at the thumbnailing stage and I wasn’t able to figure out the right direction I needed to continue the project. But even though I didn’t have the right direction, I just picked a direction to help me make some sort of progress.

Just the slightest move forward allowed me to eventually gain my normal momentum back. Once you have made one move, you just need to make another and not focus on being stuck. Find another thing you can do and do it.

So what if it isn’t the right solution? At least it is a solution. Make that move, then make another. By doing so, you’ll find yourself building momentum.

Making the first move allows your mind to think ahead

While you’re working on one solution, your brain is subconsciously analyzing it and figuring out why it isn’t the best solution. As you process what you’re working on, you’ll realize that if you do something else, it would provide a better solution than this one.

Then when you try the next solution, you go through the process again, but this time, you’re one step further than you were when you were stuck.

Now, do it again.

The next thing you know, you’re back in full swing with the right solution.

Make your first move forward

When I realized I was stuck, but kept sketching more thumbnails, all I was doing was side-stepping and not making any forward progress. It was only when I moved on with a direction despite knowing it wasn’t the right one, when I started making progress again.

When you find yourself stuck, you just need to find (and make) that first step forward.

It doesn’t have to be right. The only requirement is that it needs to be forward.

You won’t make any progress being stationary.

Pick one idea and go with it. Then do it again, and again, and again until you eventually find yourself back on track full-steam.

Have you ever tried making a move when you were stuck? What was your experience when you did? Tell me below!

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