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Unblocking the stuck nonsense

Explain to the group they’re going to eradicate their stuckness, which is blocking all the valuable brilliance which is obviously inside their heads.

Make sure the students are armed with their favourite pen and something comfortable to write on. Explain they’re about to do something that might feel uncomfortable to start with but will have transformative effects on whatever they are working on. Ask them if they are willing to give it a go.

Take time to get everyone’s buy in. If anyone resists heavily, ask them to pay attention to what everyone else is about to do, and explain you’ll help them once everyone else has started.

Tell everyone they are going to start writing until they fill up at least a sheet of A4. They can start writing their personal statement/CV/proposal or if that feels too difficult at the moment, they can write anything. They can write a nonsense version of whatever they’re trying to complete. They can write what you’ve just said, the names of their favourite sports team or music group, the lyrics to a song, a wish list of things they want to achieve. Explain it really doesn’t matter what they write, as long as they are writing something.

Explain that getting the writing flowing (whether it’s nonsense or sensible) will ensure the stuck feeling will unblock itself and they will eventually be able to unleash their brilliance. Be convinced this will work yourself, and you’ll convince them to go ahead.


(At this point, do not engage in conversation, look at their pens, not their eyes and encourage them. Watch them and if they look stuck, give them other suggestions as to what they can write – something really easy, even repeating ‘this is a silly exercise and I’m stuck’ a hundred times will work  – the objective is to fill the whole sheet of A4.)

After five or ten minutes, the majority of the students will unstick themselves and want to keep writing – let them do this. Some will remain stuck, in which case quietly take them through the questions here and give them lots of reassurance they can do it.

Do an experiential review and let them draw their own conclusions.

If they need a dollop of confidence and motivation, check out these videos.

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