In our previous blog, Ten Steps Forward, Three Steps Back, we talked about the unfortunate fact that many of us have more unfinished writing projects than we do finished ones. However, in the words of one writing instructor, the big problems that writers face are actually few in number and are quite solvable. Since this often doesn't feel true to us at all, what else might be going on?
In this blog series, we'll cover steps of writing to lay down a roadmap, though these particular steps certainly aren't all-encompassing. The steps we cover aren't necessarily new either, but our perspective on them can be.
Here's the 10-step tour:
While most writers love to write, most writers would also admit, if they are being honest with themselves, that some level of fear trails their efforts like an undesirable relative, showing up on the doorstep at the most inopportune moments. So what are these fears?
Common fears include whether their writing or plot is "good enough," whether readers will enjoy their work or whether their ideas are sufficiently unique or their style approachable. Most certainly for debut writers, the added fear of whether they will ever find an agent and get published is thrown in for good measure. Now, how much these fears stops writers from reaching their goals varies widely. Interestingly, whether one has been published or enjoyed success in terms of sales, recognition or positive reader reviews does not seem to deter this wily tag-along.
If such fears keep you from writing, it's important to know you're not alone. For those who completed the survey after our recent...
The therapeutic benefits of writing have been known for some time, though it has been called by several names such as narrative therapy, expressive writing, and journal writing, among others. James Pennebaker pioneered the idea of writing for therapeutic benefits in the 1980s, which was referred to at that time as expressive writing.
In the initial experiments by Pennebaker, he used an experimental group and a control group, both of whom wrote for 15 continuous minutes, repeated over four days. The experimental group was instructed to write about past traumas with emotional expression encouraged while the control group was instructed to write on neutral topics, focusing on factual information as much as possible (i.e., avoiding emotional or upsetting topics that were personally relevant).
One very interesting finding of the study was that the experimental group, relative to the control group, had far fewer physician visits in the months that followed. While they reported being upset...
After a long day of work has frayed my nerves and left me exhausted, there are few things I look forward to more than losing myself in a good book. I generally choose fiction for this time of day because I am not tasked with learning new material or reevaluating my shortcomings, neither of which I am well equipped to do when tired. Instead, I have the pleasure of exploring the trials and triumphs of my favorite protagonists or wailing against the evils of insufferable villains. While this, too, may sound too intense, it actually provides a safe avenue for emotional release. This is why I lovingly call it "fictional therapy."
While reading (or listening to a book) is not everyone's favorite pastime, for those who enjoy this activity, it can have genuine psychological benefit. Remember that ruminating on troublesome events (e.g., politics, news of pandemic) or on issues over which we have no control (e.g., the behavior of our boss or our spouse) will create increasing anxiety for most...