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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writer's Block: Getting Into the Chair and Staying There | Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, Psychology Today

"If you break down the writing process carefully, you find two points when a writer gets blocked," write blogger Barry Michels. He continues:
The first is when she has to get herself to sit down and start writing. (Believe it or not, some don’t make it. I’ve treated writers who have gone for six months without writing a word.) If a writer makes it past the first point, she has to face the second: keeping herself in the chair, continuing to write. ...
Michels writes that various types of pain are what prompts people not to get started writing. For example, pain caused by dread:
the prospect of having to invent an entire world is a little like having the creative responsibilities of God—with none of the superpowers. The task feels impossible.
For help in moving through that pain, Michels links to previous blog in which the writers discuss a tool they call Reversal of Desire.

Michels then describes the difficulty or ability of writers to generate what the bloggers call "flow." Flow, he says, is "the sense that something wiser and more fluent is using you as a conduit for the writing." He writes:
Flow doesn’t come to those who try to express themselves well. Flow comes to those who express themselves freely.
For writers to reach a "flow state," Michels writes, they must do something counterintuitive: They must accept flawed writing [emphasis added].

As a former public information officer for a wastewater treatment agency, I appreciated this analogy in Michel's conclusion:
If you can’t accept the bad, you can’t get to the good. It’s as if the flow is pure, clean water trapped behind dirty, disgusting sewage. If you can’t welcome the sewage and let it flow through you, you’ll never be able to get to the pure stuff.
(He then refers to a tool developed by the bloggers to help writers do that. But he says it will be described in an upcoming post.)

For more advice on this topic, check out the Overcoming Writer's Block section in Garbl's Writing Process Links.

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