TerriCarr profile image

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?

  • Regular daily writing sessions
  • Eat that frog first thing in the morning
  • I get to it if I get to it. No big deal.
  • I am supposed to write regularly?!
  • I think this book could really help me.
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."

 Last updated on July 18, 2014

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What solutions have you found to keep your writing flowing? 76 comments

PaigSr profile image

PaigSr 10 months ago from State of Confussion Level 5 Commenter

When it comes to writing I have a pencil and paper with me. Never sure when a thought will hit. I have pulled over more than once while driving because of this.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 10 months ago Hub Author

@PaigSr: Thanks for stopping by. I also always have paper and pen with me. I will even bring paper and pen if going for a walk. Sometimes though I think I get more and better ideas if I just let myself be completely free of paper and pen. Ideas are not enough though. Sitting down to do something with them is the harder part :-)


YogaAngel profile image

YogaAngel 10 months ago

This sounds like a good book. I feel periodically inspired to write, but have a hard time when I have to write about something. Especially when writing something for college, there is nothing I dread more. LOL


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 10 months ago Hub Author

@YogaAngel: Hi YogaAngel,Yes, the writing we have to do but dread...that is exactly the kind of thing this book could be helpful for. She encourages you to set aside just 15 minutes to work on your project, then keep going if you want to, or take a break and come back the next day for at least 15 minutes. Large projects get written this way....at least that is what I hear.


goldenrulecomics profile image

goldenrulecomics 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

I never had writer's block -- I just never have enough time!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 8 months ago Hub Author

@goldenrulecomics: I guess I have both problems. Not enough time but also resistance to sitting down and working on the most important projects. I think having a regular writing habit, even if it is only a few minutes a day, is a really useful thing.


Sara2901 profile image

Sara2901 8 months ago

Enjoyed the video. Thanks.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 8 months ago Hub Author

@Sara2901: Glad you liked it!


esmonaco profile image

esmonaco 8 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

Thanks for sharing this, I think about the subject, develop a couple of different thoughts on how I'm going to start, and then I just strat to write.


Vickie Moses profile image

Vickie Moses 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

Thank you for providing information on how to get writing done!


QuizSquid profile image

QuizSquid 7 months ago Level 1 Commenter

Thanks for the review!


tonyleather 7 months ago

I like the sound of this!


Charito1962 profile image

Charito1962 7 months ago from Manila, Philippines Level 6 Commenter

Writer's block can really be a disease! The only way I cure it is to read regularly, and this stimulates my mind. Then, my creative juices start to flow..and I just have to write!


KarenHC profile image

KarenHC 7 months ago from U.S. Level 2 Commenter

This sounds like it would be a very useful book for me to read!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 7 months ago Hub Author

@KarenHC: I certainly found it helpful, if only to find out that a published book author sometimes has to ease herself into writing with a 15 minute commitment.


Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 7 months ago Level 4 Commenter

I can use this! Bookmarked to several sites to help frustrated writers.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 7 months ago Hub Author

@Gypzeerose: Awesome! Thanks for spreading it around!!


John Dyhouse profile image

John Dyhouse 6 months ago from UK Level 5 Commenter

THis could be so useful to me, I try to write regularly but find myself procrastinating


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@John Dyhouse: I know exactly how you feel. Isn't it helpful though to know you can just inch your way into to a writing practice. That is what I am doing today. By just starting and doing what I can for 15 minutes, I am making progress on something I have been procrastinating on all week.


nikahexplorer profile image

nikahexplorer 6 months ago

Indeed interesting, holisticwriter i like the way you create lens.


hungryformovies profile image

hungryformovies 6 months ago

This has been very helpful especially for aspiring writers like me.


esmonaco profile image

esmonaco 6 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

Just back to say Congratulations on your LOTD!!!!!


Lynn Klobuchar profile image

Lynn Klobuchar 6 months ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Level 5 Commenter

Sounds like an interesting read. Congratulations on LotD.


Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 6 months ago Level 4 Commenter

I am so busy working, creating my eBay store, etc that I forget about my own writing. I liked this: "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. " - We all have a story to tell. Could we write a book in a year of 5 minute segments?


SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 6 months ago from Arkansas USA Level 7 Commenter

I love what you wrote about the book making you feel like a normal writer. That really resonated with me. I really needed this today. Thanks for the great review and congratulations on your Lens of the Day!


Dressage Husband profile image

Dressage Husband 6 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada Level 5 Commenter

I find that the best work is usually that which I do when I am not pressuring myself by any guidelines. Strangely it is often also the material that I produce quickest. Freed from the pressure of schedules and must do I am way more creative. There is a lesson in there somewhere.


Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 6 months ago from Colorado Level 6 Commenter

Congrats on Lens of the Day! Thanks for sharing a resource that can help every writer. We all have our moments when we need a process to move us forward. Appreciated!


Merrci profile image

Merrci 6 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 7 Commenter

Congratulations on Lens of the day!!! I really enjoyed your review. The book does sound excellent. We are so easily distracted from writing, whether it's an excuse or real. I like the small chunks of time, more easy to manage. Great job!


katiesnow 6 months ago

Good info, and great lens but for me who writes daily now on Squidoo and currently writing two books, I simply put my writing down and go do something else for a bit. I never use techniques to force myself to write. It must come naturally for me or the story will not flow. However, many of my writer friends swear by books like these and say they work great!


delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 6 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Congratulations on LOTD! Interesting reading, nicely written. I'm not a writer, just a story teller of my memories...and that doesn't work on a regular basis... ;-)


Seasons Greetings profile image

Seasons Greetings 6 months ago from Ontario, Canada Level 4 Commenter

You wrote a very good review. Thanks for including some of the basic advice too. There are a lot of books about writing, I've got two shelves of them myself. A lot of them just go over the same stuff in different ways.


carol-nobleboshnack 6 months ago

@nikahexplorer: Like this book.makes sense.


Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 6 months ago from Concord VA Level 4 Commenter

Thanks for the great book suggestion and review.


MJ Martin profile image

MJ Martin 6 months ago from Washington State Level 3 Commenter

I like the 15 minutes at a time and using brain science. Intriguing review.


nedumedia profile image

nedumedia 6 months ago

Holisticwriter, thanks a million for this lens which for me is so timely! This is my major problem in writing; Procrastination..... Thank you once again, I can use this...


RinchenChodron 6 months ago

Congrats on your Lens of the Day1


anonymous 6 months ago

Interesting approach. Congratulations on getting LotD!


SteveKaye profile image

SteveKaye 6 months ago from Placentia, CA, USA Level 4 Commenter

Little by little we can accomplish big things.


di4422 profile image

di4422 6 months ago

Great Lens!! Good tips..thanks for the useful advice!! I try to write every night. I really enjoy writing!!


MonkeyGirl18 profile image

MonkeyGirl18 6 months ago

I wanna read that book now and try to see if that works for me...This was an interesting lens ^^


miriamyentraccm profile image

miriamyentraccm 6 months ago from Montclair, CA. 91763

Thanks for the tips! The poll is nice, too.


captainj88 profile image

captainj88 6 months ago from East Berlin, PA, USA Level 4 Commenter

Great resource! I just bought it, thanks for alerting me to this.


bobnolley lm profile image

bobnolley lm 6 months ago

Congrats on your LOTD! A great treatment of a great topic...at least for writers!


Heidi Vincent profile image

Heidi Vincent 6 months ago from GRENADA Level 7 Commenter

Great review holisticwriter and congratulations on winning a well-deserved LOTD! I really believe in and give myself process time and self-time.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@esmonaco: Thanks! It is certainly a nice surprise!!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@Gypzeerose: I heard a story not long ago about a man who wrote a book in 15 minute chunks. He wrote every day religiously.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@SusanDeppner: The more I read about other writers' processes for getting over obstacles, the more it seems we are all kind of the same. A small percentage of writers get right down to work without trouble, but many, many writers, even 'successful' writers have issues (read: junk) to work through and have to come up with some kind of system to achieve productivity in writing.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@Dressage Husband: Yes, I have noticed the same thing. I think it is cuz a spirit of enthusiasm and passion is driving us at these times.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@Merrci: Baby steps, baby steps....That is my mantra for writing and so many other things too!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@nedumedia: I hope it helps!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@RinchenChodron: Thank you! I wasn't expecting such a treat!


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@SteveKaye: Or as someone once said, "Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, it's a cinch."


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@Heidi Vincent: I am impressed that you already figured this out. Maybe you are a Julia Cameron fan? She stresses the importance of artist dates to refill the well of ideas and creativity.


ClearInsightProds profile image

ClearInsightProds 6 months ago

Good tips to start the day. Thanks. Seems essential to maintain a playful attitude. I'm a multimedia artist. I have a lense about a performance I made in collaboration with Argentinean composer Oscar Edelstein (see squidoo.com/oscaredelstein) and a beautiful dancer Sandra Grinberg who was part of the Trisha Brown Dance Company in New York. Somehow I managed to remain very playful on this project and the results surprise and delight me to this day. Looking back I realise that I used the idea of Process Time by looking at hundreds of pictures of rivers on the internet. Then what I made was an imaginary leap of faith from that platform. Hope you enjoy my lenses. I've enjoyed yours and it has helped me begin my morning creatively! Check out if you have a moment see squidoo.com/riversandmirrors


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@ClearInsightProds: Hi, thanks for stopping by. I will take a look at your lenses later today.


TMI_PR 6 months ago

Good tips! I often struggle to find good topics an write and thats bad for me in my career. I've always wanted to find out about writing classes in my area or library for writing classes. Perhaps I should host my own. Definitely need to get hold of this book first though


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@TMI_PR: I would love to hear how you like it. Thank you!


semas profile image

semas 6 months ago

Congrats on your LOTD! Great tips to make one break the writer's block.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@semas: Thank you, sema. I hope you found it helpful. I certainly do.


DebMartin profile image

DebMartin 6 months ago Level 3 Commenter

These tips are good no matter what you're trying to accomplish. Even if it's not specifically a writing project.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@DebMartin: I agree, Deb. Sometimes with a big project or something that you have made out to be big in your own mind....getting started with a little chunk will break through the inertia.


Colin323 profile image

Colin323 6 months ago from Ilkley, Yorkshire Level 6 Commenter

It is a struggle to write sometimes; easier to just watch tv. But it is important, particularly as you get older, to do something creative each day to stop your mind rusting over - so the 'Process Time' period of the day is very good advice, I think. Great review of a book I had not previously heard of, but will certainly seek out.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@Colin323: Thanks, Colin.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 6 months ago Hub Author

@TerriCarr: re: watching tv. Luckily I developed a habit of watching very little tv many years ago. Plus, the remote control that changes the channels is really hard to operate....so even if I am tempted, it is too much work. I manage to find other ways to procrastinate though :-)


Kittycheer profile image

Kittycheer 5 months ago

Very helpful suggestions here. I am totally guilty of expecting a "Best Seller" when I sit down to write. When I just let the creative juices flow, I fight the judgment about the result rather than just calling it process time. I'll look into this book.


julieannbrady profile image

julieannbrady 5 months ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA Level 6 Commenter

You know, I don't think I've ever suffered from "writer's block" but perhaps more of exhaustion. But what is interesting, when I was working in my professional marketing career, I often found that I wrote very creatively when I was dead-tired.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 5 months ago Hub Author

@julieannbrady: Interesting, JaguarJulie. I find it is easier to write when I am doing something I am excited about....and when I am the only editor :-) I often find that writing before bed makes me ready to drop off to sleep quickly. It's like writing eats up my excess mental energy and then I can just collapse.


Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 5 months ago from Texas USA Level 7 Commenter

Excellent lens. Writer's block is such a tricky little fellow and it comes in multiple forms.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 5 months ago Hub Author

@Arachnea: Tricky for sure. But with a little observation, we can often outwit it. Thanks for popping in!


BodyHairRemoval profile image

BodyHairRemoval 5 months ago Level 2 Commenter

A writers block is very frustrating to suffer from.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 5 months ago Hub Author

@BodyHairRemoval: Yes. But there are a lot of great tools out there. We can learn from one another's experiences. I imagine in decades past, writers felt mostly isolated in their writer's block. Now you can look for help on writing blogs or Amazon!


tribesearcher 5 months ago

My solution is to put on some energetic music, sing along with it, prior to that drink lots of water (1 liter at least) in a period of half an hour and then just start. I make sure I write in a space i which the temperaturen is noot higher than 19 degens Celsius. great temperaturen for the mind. I always write without looking at the screen eagerly watching the words appear on it. I just look on the keyboard, pushing the keys. After I emptied my brain, I start editing and adjusting. For me, it always works. Oh, last remark. It also helpes me the say out loud my Statement including; My Life Purpose, My Plan to realize my desires, My four words on how to behave every day. I do this in the morning, evening and before I go to bed I have a conversation with God evaluating the Day. Through this I stimulatie my subconscious mind and creative imagination. I hope this helps. Keep up the good work. You're awesome. (by the way; you can also see God as a manifestation of an universal force guiding and supporting you)


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 5 months ago Hub Author

@tribesearcher: Sounds like you have a lot of routines already in place. Many writers say having pre-writing routines is helpful.


Natalie W Schorr profile image

Natalie W Schorr 4 months ago

It's a discipline that's hard sometimes.


John Dyhouse profile image

John Dyhouse 2 months ago from UK Level 5 Commenter

I read this on a previous occasion - and then lost the link. Thankfully, I found it again. I think those three stages really resonate with me ( to coin a phrase) and I will be looking to buy this book. Unfortunately, I am in the UK so it won't show on your sales. But thanks for the information.


TerriCarr profile image

TerriCarr 2 months ago Hub Author

@John Dyhouse: I hope you enjoy the book. I recently pulled my copy out of the closet for a little more inspiration.

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