Here is how to get out of it.
I have been stuck in a rut for the better part of a year. A cavernous rut with hard tree roots clawing at me from the rut walls. When I look up, long spindly vines are spilling over the edges of my rut. Swaying, mocking me from above.
I believe we can also classify my rut as a pit. But for the intent of this post, I’ll stick to rut because who says how far down a rut can be?
I have a ladder, but I’m afraid to climb it. I get dizzy and weak in the knees because I’ve got a silly phobia about heights. Since my rut is so deep and the ladder is so tall, I believe I became accustomed to the darkness. But that doesn’t mean I like my rut.
I hate my rut. But after reading Marilyn Flower’s writing prompt, I searched my heart and realized my state of stuck-ness.
I am stuck in a rut!
My rut has a name — fear. The paralyzing fear that I am not enough. Not creative enough and articulate enough.
Therefore, I sat down at the bottom of my rut to analyze my rut-ness and stuck-ness and made a plan.
1. Creativity (Or lack thereof.)
Problem: I feel that my vocabulary is limited compared to many other writers. I can’t think of creative words fast enough to say in a conversation, so I stay quiet. Sometimes. People out-talk me in the speed of words spoken, and that makes me feel dumb. I like to keep up, but I get lost.
Also, when I write, words seem to escape me. It’s like I’m playing a hide and seek word-game. I’m counting down 3, 2, 1, here I come. I’m gonna get ya!
Solution: Grammarly lists the same five skills I practiced as a kid learning to speak my native tongue — English. Whoa, that does a lot to help my self-esteem portion of my fear factor. But I’m ready for school, so here goes: reading, listening, writing, watching, and conversing.
That is the first rung on the ladder.
Problem: I fear my Southern dialect cancels out any validity of my input. People do not listen. On the other hand, they listen but do not understand.
For example, while I was living in Las Vegas, others could not make out certain words I spoke. One day I asked the stocker in the grocery store where the “ceral” was, and he looked confused. Finally, I had to spell out, c.e.r.e.a.l.
Another time, I went to get the “ol” changed in my car, pointing to the sign in big letters, Oil Change $19.95. I felt like Chris Tucker talking to Jackie Chan, ‘DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?”
Therein lies my dilemma.
Inc. magazine offers the following five hacks to help me articulate my speech and thoughts. Hey, maybe one day I’ll give a TED talk. (Actually, it is a dream of mine…)
- Listen to me, myself. Even if I hate the sound of my voice. Listening to my podcast has given me the opportunity to practice and change what I dislike.
- Do not be afraid to enunciate. Just speak slowly and clearly.
- Keep it simple. Using simple and concise sentences keeps the conversation focused.
- Forget the fillers. Try to be aware of the ums, uhs, and ahs.
- Pay attention to your audience. Keep audience attention by paying attention to their attention levels. Did you get that? I’m not sure I did either.
I’m climbing out! Yay! This ladder was not as high and the rut not as deep as I thought. I’m kicking those pesky roots out of the way. The vines are helping me to balance as I step out of the rut into the blazing, brilliant sunshine of enough-ness!
Yes, my rut is effectively repaired. I will maintain that state of rut-ness so I never again enter the pit of stuck-ness.
I hope my expository exploration of articulation helps you in your creative expedition of words and writing.