Here we go! This post will be the first in a series on conquering writer's block.
I need you guys to understand one thing right off the bat: This is not going to be a bunch of tips.
I have nothing against tips. Really. But understand something about how I work as a psychologist: I don't treat problems. I treat the causes of problems. And that is because most problems of the human kind have multiple causes, and depending on which one (or ones) it is, the intervention might be different. I do things this way because it is more efficient and effective than using a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
So in these posts, I'm not going to be giving tips, really, at least not until we go over the causes of this frustrating condition, because the "tips" you choose should be tailored to the "flavor" of writer's block. That should make it easier for YOU to solve the problem of writer's block by selecting strategies that are more likely to work for you.
I hope that makes some sense.
Onward! First things first. Here's how things are not:
In other words, whatever drives your feelings--depression, anxiety, frustration, restlessness--doesn't come directly from an event (like rejection, or a negative review, or the fact that you've been trying to write the same scene for the past four weeks). Feelings come from that black box above. See it? Your thoughts. How you interpret the event.
And of course, it's not a linear process, right? Feelings aren't just an end result. Feelings drive behavior, and behavior leads to more events, and more thoughts. Like this:
Notice all those double-headed arrows? That's because each of these things affects the other stuff. This is the basic set-up for a model that we use to understand all sorts of problems. It's the foundation for a kind of treatment (cognitive-behavioral therapy) that's been proven effective in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even medication-resistant schizophrenia.
If you understand this model, you'll understand yourself better, and you'll understand writer's block better. In fact, you'll be able to deal better with a host of other obstacles to your writing or life success. So ... ponder it for a bit.
I'll be back on Monday with the results of an informal poll I took here on the blog and at the AbsoluteWrite forums about what goes through writers' heads as they experience writer's block. Basically, we're going to dissect that black box up there to start to get to the CAUSES of writer's block, so that you can determined what particular flavor you've got, and then we'll discuss what to do with each variation. Sound reasonable?
I hope so! Now--if you have questions about this model, please ask, because it's the basis for what I'll be posting on next week! I'll be answering questions in the comments so that everyone can see them.