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Reframe Blocks

by Rochelle Melander

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

– Ken Robinson

What do you do when you have a project that seems to be going nowhere? How do we work with feeling stuck? In the book Designing Your Life, authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans frame that experience this way, “And don’t worry about being stuck. Designers get stuck all the time. Being stuck can be a launching pad for creativity.”

Whoa! Now that’s a reframe! With this point of view, being stuck can actually SAVE your project and make it better than ever. But how? The authors suggest that readers use mind mapping to discover new ideas—and then connect the ideas in unique ways to create even more fun possibilities. We can do the same thing with our writing—mind map possible solutions to a problem until we find a path forward.

Wow! With a little time and the willingness to play with ideas, we can discover the perfect solution to our writing problem!

The Quest

The authors of Designing Your Life suggest that sometimes we get stuck when we’re wedded to a path or working only with our typical solutions. In this quest, you’ll reframe the experience of being stuck as a launching pad for creative solutions. Then you will reimagine new solutions for your problem.


When we get stuck, it’s tempting to blame ourselves and then look for a reason. What did we do wrong? Why are we unable to move forward on this project? How can we be so dense? Instead of blaming ourselves for being blocked or trying to figure out why we are blocked, look at the block as an opportunity. Being stuck can be a precious gift—a chance to rethink, reimagine, and restart this project.

Create a sentence that helps you see this situation as an opportunity and feel grateful for it:

  • I’m grateful I have the opportunity to make this a better project.
  • I’m thankful that I can reimagine this story.
  • I’m excited by the possibilities of what this could become.


Brainstorm possible new directions or solutions to the project. Use lists, mind-maps, free writing, or any other tool that helps you get to a new place. Ask, What if… and follow the answers wherever they go. Be open to new formats, genres, audiences, writing styles, and content. Mix and match answers for unique mash-ups—maybe your romance novel could become a Zombie Regency romance with a twist of mystery? Or your talk on networking tips could become an interactive workbook or class.


Once you discover a direction that feels energizing—follow it. If you get stuck, don’t worry. Try again.

Game Play Tips

  • The key to this quest is mindset: see the problem as an opportunity. Try to catch yourself when you slip back into a negative mindset about experiencing an obstacle. Then reframe again: I’ve landed on a launching pad, not run into a roadblock.
  • Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Adopt the mindset of your secret identity, your favorite superhero, or your ideal reader—and see if that helps you come up with new solutions.
  • Consider hosting a brainstorming party. Invite writing friends to help you imagine possibilities.

For the Win

Sometimes it’s all in how you look at it. Walt Disney’s first animation studio, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, went bankrupt. But he started again and launched the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in California, which became the famous and successful Walt Disney Studio. At 3M, a failed adhesive became the brilliant idea behind sticky notes. The Slinky failed as a tool to stabilize naval equipment, but makes a great toy. What will you launch from here?

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an ADHD-trained professional certified coach who has helped hundreds of people write and publish books. She’s available to help you create a plan for your writing project, overcome distraction and procrastination to start and finish your writing, and navigate publishing and marketing your book. Book a private consultation:

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