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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Poop on Writer’s Block Part 3: A Habit of Love

(In Part 1, we identified the Poop Principle; in Part 2, we saw how love brings us back to our writing.)

We love writing (or love at least a significant part of writing), yet we all have excuses and ways to avoid writing. Why this is so puzzled me for years. I explored and reflected on my own resistance, worked with other writers/artists who struggle with resistance and researched what’s going on in our brains when we’re in that push-pull, love-dread place.

Along the way, I identified a multitude of sources of resistance. I’ve learned that it’s vital for each writer to learn to recognize her/his resistance so she/he can get around it. I’ve seen how writers who have habits are much better equipped to resolve their resistance. And I know that a habit of love is the most powerful resource we can give ourselves.

Habit = Neural Pathway

Every time we do something, we fire neurons in a particular sequence. Every time we fire neurons to activate a particular belief or behavior, that neural pathway gets another insulating layer of myelin (white fatty tissue), which makes the pathway faster and more efficient.

Every time we do what we love, our brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Repeatedly doing what we love creates a habit of love: a fast, efficient neural pathway that makes us feel good.

Commitments Create Habits, Habits Reinforce Commitments

I make commitments every week so I’ll remember to reserve time for what I love. Commitments are my way of making sure I put first things first. I reserve Product Time for my writing because I love writing.

But between making the commitment and the time I’m supposed to write, resistance butts in with distractions, interruptions, fear, anxiety, self-doubt and perfectionism that all push me away from writing. The emotional turmoil of high resistance can make me forget that I love to write. This is when the habit part is so important.

Even when my resistance is high, I show up because I committed myself. I committed myself because I’m in the habit of making commitments to Process, Self-care and Product Time. And because I show up, I get to remember what I love about what I’m doing and how good it feels to make time for that.

I’ll do the things I have to do (I’ll pick up the poop) during my Product Time, but I make sure I do something I love in at least some part of my Product Time. This keeps me willing to commit myself. And the habit of love perpetuates itself.

(If you want help building a habit of love for your writing, my Writing Habit class is a great place to start.)


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  1. Poop on Writer’s Block Part 2: Love Brings Us Back « The Bane of Your Resistance - June 27, 2011

    […] [Go to the next installment: A Habit of Love] […]


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