Have you suffered from the equivalent of writer’s block?

Thread Starter

schmitt trigger

Joined Jul 12, 2010
440
Writer’s block is that dreaded condition where ideas cease to flow, and any work in process remains unfinished.

And no matter how hard one tries, inspiration is in short supply.
I have lately had the equivalent of writer’s block, as applied to electronic projects.

Previously, an idea would come, let’s say a yard weather station with an RF link, and I would immediately draw a block diagram, write down certain features and requirements, and start researching the blocks which I would not be familiar with. Order samples, play a little with them until I understand them. Then tie all the blocks to work together, usually with the aid of a microprocessor. And lastly, the oft-neglected part of the power supply.

Of course at every step of the way there are pitfalls, but conquering them is part of the learning process.

Lately, at least during this Covid pandemic, I would start a project and proceed as always, but when I find a stumbling block, my mind goes dry. No matter how hard I try, ideas are not forthcoming.

And of course, I could ask questions in this forum or others. The concern is that I cannot really articulate anymore what my problem is.



Has anyone suffered also from a dry spell? I have in the past, but not as long nor as deep. I ignore whether the emotional burden of the pandemic has drained me, or whether having hit 65 years of age finally means that I am in a mental decline.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
7,693
I am 67 and I think there’s two forces in action here.

There is the age thing...

I have dozens of incomplete projects. So I’d say I’m experiencing the same thing. Plus, I understand that COVID precautions do produce a fear of starting. I fought back by performing in a group of Covid monologues. And there is a line “Even my sourdough starter has expired.”
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,536
I was working on finishing my master's degree while I was employed. The research work was completed and all I had to do was write up the thesis.

I would work during the day and then go home and have my supper. Then I would go over to the library at about 7pm and start writing. For three hours between 7 and 10pm I could not get past the first sentence. Then from 10pm to 11pm before the library closed I would manage to get a paragraph or two written. This pattern went on for months before I was able to complete the thesis.

This does not happen anymore for whatever reasons.

As for projects, I could have six or more projects on the go, many still unfinished, not so much from design block but from priorities. Sometimes when a problem comes up it helps to take a break and a fresh solution to the problem appears.

I started building an RC sailboat over 35 years ago. I hope one day to complete it. Now that I have a 3D printer and a CNC machine, success is looking attainable.
 

xox

Joined Sep 8, 2017
565
Writer’s block is that dreaded condition where ideas cease to flow, and any work in process remains unfinished.

And no matter how hard one tries, inspiration is in short supply.
I have lately had the equivalent of writer’s block, as applied to electronic projects.

Previously, an idea would come, let’s say a yard weather station with an RF link, and I would immediately draw a block diagram, write down certain features and requirements, and start researching the blocks which I would not be familiar with. Order samples, play a little with them until I understand them. Then tie all the blocks to work together, usually with the aid of a microprocessor. And lastly, the oft-neglected part of the power supply.

Of course at every step of the way there are pitfalls, but conquering them is part of the learning process.

Lately, at least during this Covid pandemic, I would start a project and proceed as always, but when I find a stumbling block, my mind goes dry. No matter how hard I try, ideas are not forthcoming.

And of course, I could ask questions in this forum or others. The concern is that I cannot really articulate anymore what my problem is.



Has anyone suffered also from a dry spell? I have in the past, but not as long nor as deep. I ignore whether the emotional burden of the pandemic has drained me, or whether having hit 65 years of age finally means that I am in a mental decline.
It's ok to put down a project when it feels like things just aren't "clicking". Focus on something else that interests you in the meantime. Often you will find yourself thinking about that old project again. Great! Jump back into it. Not necessarily the most efficient method of course (I have literally hundreds of unfinished projects!) but hey it does help you stay creative.

Balance matters too. If you're not getting enough physical activity, social interaction, wholesome food - whatever. That can have a really negative impact on your drive to do productive things.
 

Thread Starter

schmitt trigger

Joined Jul 12, 2010
440
Allow me to make some comments;
Indeed the restrictions placed by the pandemic do have emotional repercussions. In words of musicians, one feels “blue”. That will affect creativity. Although in an interview with Billy Joel, he mentioned that some of his greatest hits were written in periods of personal distress.
But I am not Billy Joel.

Secondly, age. Indeed age does matter, specifically if one suffers from ailments like chronic back pain, which prevents one from sitting for extended periods of time.

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback. I feel a little better. Thanks again.
 

sparky 1

Joined Nov 3, 2018
544
Post pandemic anxiety remains for a long period because our nervous system remains on high alert.
Post traumatic stress needs realistic expectations. Our old way may have been " necessity is the mother of invention"
but age and rewiring those nerve circuits is taking presidence. We might need more time to sort it out because more is on the back burner.
 
Last edited:

bogosort

Joined Sep 24, 2011
674
I have lately had the equivalent of writer’s block, as applied to electronic projects.
You might just need some inspiration. There is a finite supply of low-hanging fruit of electronics projects, so maybe it's time to shake things up a bit and step out of your comfort zone. For example, when musicians feel like they're in a creative rut, it's often inspiring to listen to music in an unfamiliar genre, or to play an unfamiliar instrument. Anything to break up the well-worn patterns that got us stuck in a rut. Try exploring new technologies, or new ways of using familiar technology, and see if you find something that inspires you.

However, I feel I should mention that stuckness isn't always a lack of inspiration; sometimes we feel stuck because of an underlying fear. My friend calls this the "discomfort zone", as it represents a local minimum of comfort: we feel bad being stuck, but not as bad as we (think) we would feel if we were to actually face the true discomfort (the global minimum of comfort).

As an example, suppose in the back of your mind that you suspect that your advancing age were truly affecting your ability to design and work on electronics projects. This would make working on a new project a scary thing to do, as it might confirm your suspicions. Unchecked, the brain's emotional calculus will choose the relatively light pain of blockage/stuckness over the deeper pain of the other implications. If this is the case -- and I'm definitely not saying it is, just food for thought -- the local minimum (feeling stuck) will dissolve once the true discomfort (declining ability) is faced and accepted.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,536
Good points. I continue to pursue projects to push my technical abilities.
Here are some projects I am working on or recently completed:

  1. Robotic arm (for educational purposes)
  2. Robotic sidewalk chalk artist (for street entertainment)
  3. Robotic lawn mower
  4. Wireless vibration analyzer (for industrial application)
  5. Touch-screen GUI interface for wireless IOT controller
  6. Radon gas detector for home basements
  7. Guitar tube amplifier
  8. RC sailboat
  9. CNC router/mill
 
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