When You Get Blocked

19 Mar

“Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” says a sorrowful song about the season that is about to begin. (I recommend the Betty Carter version). We might say the same for writer’s block.

A resScreen Shot 2016-03-19 at 2.50.16 PMearcher at the University of Pennsylvania has a nice bit of advice for finding a frame of mind that could help you dig out of the rut.

Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist who is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of “Wired to Create,” says, “When one feels writer’s block, it’s good to just keep putting things down on paper—ideas, knowledge, etc.” In 2009, Kaufman co-edited a volume called “The Psychology of Creative Writing”; during that process, he became convinced that allowing for error—and realizing how nonlinear a process creativity can be—was an essential step for overcoming blocks in writing. “I think one must trust the writing process. Understand that creativity requires nonlinearity and unique associative combinations,” he says. “Creative people do a lot of trial and error and rarely know where they are going exactly until they get there.”

This passage is from a short piece on the history of psychological research into writer’s block. It’s on the New Yorker website. Highly recommended.

Oh, here’s the song, too:

 

 

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