Breaking Through When You Feel Stuck

CURT NICKISCH: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Curt Nickisch.

Have you ever lost your way on something important to you?

When I was in grad school, I set out to write my master’s thesis on how America was portrayed in East German radio drama. I spent weeks in archives in Berlin, long enjoyable days in the stacks in the library, and when I began writing, I was immersed. It really was all I could think about at almost any hour of the day. And then I went away for a long weekend, a music festival with friends.

Right when I got back, my parents came to visit, my brain turned to other things, and my writing stopped. Months went by, a year. It wasn’t until my advisor very kindly coaxed me back into the work that I got going again, and I didn’t finish until I was done. I was not going to let that happen again.

Our guest today calls this getting stuck, and he says it’s not just the proverbial writer’s block. It happens in all…

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