Beating Writer's Block

A Q&A with Around the Writer's Block author Rosanne Bane

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: March 17, 2014

Beating Writer's Block

Are you doing laundry, cleaning your house, or daydreaming every time you intend to sit down and write? Like many writers, you may suffer writer's block or self-sabotaging behavior like procrastination. To break through and finally finish your manuscript, read Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance by Rosanne Bane. Part coach, part cheerleader, part neurobiologist, Bane provides the tools and inspiration you need to get ideas--and words--flowing. To learn more, read this month's Q&A with Rosanne Bane.

Rosanne Bane is a Creativity Coach and author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance as well as Dancing in the Dragon's Den. In more than 20 years teaching at the Loft Literary Center, University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota and other adult education programs, she has given thousands of writers the tools to bust through blocks, build effective writing habits, and achieve their writing dreams and goals. For more information, visit:

Blog - http://baneofyourresistance.com
Website - http://www.rosannebane.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AroundtheWritersBlock

Q: Would you define what writer's block is--and what it isn't?

A: Writer's block is the most extreme form of writer's resistance. I titled my book Around the Writer's Block because 'writer's block' is the phrase everyone knows, but true writer's block is actually rare. In AWB, I define writer's block as "full-fledged aphasia and paralysis; actually sitting down with the intention and desire to write and being unable to do so no matter how long you sit there and what you try."

Most writers are unwilling or unable to endure the agony of full-fledged block. To avoid the painful awareness that we do not or cannot write the way we want, we frequently procrastinate or distract ourselves (with e-mail, Facebook, cleaning our office, buying office supplies, family or social obligations, etc.). Resistance also includes perfectionism, postponing, self-sabotage, excessive criticism, overscheduling, and endlessly delaying your writing. Another form of resistance is getting stuck in one stage of the process (like research) and not being able to move to the next step.

Resistance is a normal, natural reaction caused by the brain's fight-or-flight response to anxiety. Most writers experience some form of resistance; if you're not writing when you say you will, you're resistant. The goal is not to eliminate resistance (which is impossible) but to learn how to respond effectively so you move through it to write the way you want to write.

Writer's block or any other form of writing resistance is NOT about lack of will power, discipline, ambition, or talent. It's about what's happening in your brain.

Q: What are top 3 dos to managing writer's block?

A: First, learn to recognize how your resistance shows up. You need to understand what's going on in your brain when you feel resistant and what you can do to shift your brain back to a relaxed, creative state.

Second, build habits to support your writing. I recommend writers do something for Product Time (what some people call writing time), Process (creative play for the sake of play with no expectations about the outcome), and Self-Care. (For more about the three habits, go to http://baneofyourresistance.com/just-for-students/ and enter the password "habits".)

Third, make small commitments to your habits--no more than 15 Magic Minutes--and keep showing up to honor those commitments no matter what!

Q: On the other hand, what are top 3 don'ts to dealing with writer's block?

A: Don't assume resistance means you're a bad or lazy writer.

Don't forget that completing a writing project takes a lot more than drafting and revising. There are six stages in the creative process--including identifying ideas, asking questions, research, incubating ideas, etc. In only one of those six stages do you actually have your fingers on the keyboard or pen on the page. Give yourself credit for everything you do.

Don't let resistance stop you.

Q: Aside from your first-rate book, what resources would you recommend to writers who want to learn more about overcoming writer's block?

A: Other great books are:

* The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes

* The Writer's Book of Hope: Getting from Frustration to Publication by Ralph Keyes

* The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

* Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I also recommend writers read books like The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge and My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor.

Other resources include my blog, classes, and being part of a writer's group that understands resistance. (I suggest you read my book or another to have common vocabulary.) The Loft Literary Center offers outstanding classes, some of which are online and available no matter where you live.

Q: Who is your agent and how did you meet him/her? If you don't have an agent, how did you come to be published by Tarcher?

A: Michelle Brower at Folio is my agent. I asked the instructor of a Loft class on writing book proposals for recommendations and he gave me the names of three agents. I looked at their websites, interviewed two of them, and selected Michelle on intuition. Both agents I interviewed wanted to represent me in part because I already had an offer on the table from Tarcher (how that happened is another story that illustrates why writers need a variety of interests). And yes, even though I had an offer from a publisher, it was worth hiring an agent. Michelle negotiated for better terms than the first offer Tarcher made and that more than covered her 15%.

Q: Do you have upcoming projects that my readers should have on their radar?

A: I'll be at the Bloomington Writer's Festival on March 22 if any of your readers are in the Minneapolis metro area. For those who aren't, I'm doing a telechat with Ruth Folit, founder of the International Association of Journal Writers, on March 13 at 3:00 p.m. Central. My online Entering the Flow class with the Loft starts March 3rd. This summer I'll teach an online version of Discover Your Way Around the Writer's Block that will cover most of the material in my book, also with the Loft. And your readers can always check the Events page on my blog, http://baneofyourresistance.com/3304-2/

Excerpted from Latinidad?« ?® 2003 by Marcela Landres

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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