Often my chat sessions are little writing consultations. Well, to be perfectly honest, they're less writing workshops than therapy sessions where we coach each other through our hangups. But that's all part of the game, right. My experience of these things is that if writing is going bad, we feel like things are spinning out of control: our inability to start keeps us from starting, then deadlines loom, and the stakes are raised even higher which makes the writing even harder.
In these situations, your response to this tailspin is to try to get out of it by turning against it. This feels natural; it's a bad situation and you need to get out of it to get your work done.
But an excellent RadioLab Short gives the lie to this tactic. This short tells the amazing story of Lincoln Beachy, the first pilot to loop-the-loop. But that's not the story here. The other thing Beachy learned to do was this:
Then one day, while working as a mechanic at an airshow in Los Angeles, he got his big break: a star pilot got hurt, and Beachey leaped in to take his place. He shot upwards, 3,000 feet into the air…and his motor failed. He went into a nose-diving spin that no pilot had ever survived. And he did what no pilot had ever done: he turned into the spin, regained control, and landed safe and sound.
This has reframed my understanding of how to respond to the tail spin of stress, writing, and deadlines. Instead of fighting to turn out of it, you gotta turn into it. This is a variation on the "The only way out is through" dictim, but turning into the spin is visually distinct. I find it really valuable, because for me it means that instead of forcing yourself to redirect, you face your spin and find the deeper hangup. Like pilots before Beachy, writers don't really escapes a tailspin by fighting it. They just set themselves up for a future spin. Instead, turning into your spin might help you prevent those spins. At the very least, it should help you get out of it much earlier than usual.