How to Beat Writer's Block
This book uses the latest brain research to create effective practices writers can use to get past their writing resistance. It addresses not only the stereotypical writers block but all kinds of resistance to writing.
As I pored through Around the Writer's Block at my local bookstore, a couple of things the author said resonated with me so powerfully that I found myself wanting to underline them so that I could easily find those passages again. That was my first clue that this book is a keeper.
Bane illustrates her findings with actual experiences of dozens of working writers who have used her techniques successfully. These stories convince me that Bane's methods work, but more importantly, they help me to feel more like a normal writer rather than a possibly hopeless wannabe writer. She includes example after example of writers who struggle to get themselves to do the thing that is most important to them. And the stories show that, with Bane's suggestions, they are able to achieve a consistent level of productivity.
Here is a synopsis of her three-stage process for getting the writing done:
1) Process time - this is 15 or more minutes per day where you do something that gets your creative juices flowing but doesn't lead to any expected outcome. This phase could include journaling, collage-making, knitting, cooking, art museums, gardening, dancing, etc. You be the judge. She summarizes the effects of process time, "Process reminds us what we knew when we were kids -- that's it's easy to create when you stop worrying about what you're doing and just let the doing follow your being."
Ironically, Bane observes that most writers are extremely resistant to actually implementing this step. It seems too indulgent and trivial to actually help their writing. However, experience shows that creatives who are overly focused on producing completed work without the uninhibited freedom of process time often end up stuck and stale in their writing.
2) Product Time - This is a commitment of no more than 15 minutes (4 - 6 times per week) where you commit your attention and energy towards a specific piece of work. Product time can include research, interviews, thinking about a project and writing. But it is work that is clearly related to a particular product or outcome.
Bane explains that making the time commitment deliberately short decreases the likelihood that you will start thinking, "I am not ready to write for 30 minutes or an hour" or "I need to do more research." By setting a very small commitment, the part of our brain that is easily threatened by a daunting task is less likely to be aroused. We don't expect ourselves to write the great American novel in 15 minutes, so our paralyzing perfectionism recedes a little.
3) Self-care Time - Bane reminds us of the reason why airline stewards tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help a child or someone else. Only after you take care of yourself are you able to help someone else. Likewise, only when you take care of your whole being, body, mind and spirit, will you be in shape to maintain good writing habits.
This book offers more advice about the importance of recording your habits and rewarding yourself for keeping your commitments. There is lots of practical wisdom to help writers get unstuck.
I have already underlined numerous passages and I know I will be picking up this book again and again when I need to overcome inertia.
Author Rosanne Bane shares stats about the brain's capacity to learn new habits even as we age. Skip the 5 minute introduction....and even some of Roseanne's intro remarks. The juicy stuff starts around..20:00 minutes in.
What tips and techniques do you use to write regularly?See results without voting
One of the first passages I underlined, "The highest creativity occurs when we discover the need for a creative response ourselves and choose to contribute independent of any possible external constraints."