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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.

Stop Shoulding Yourself into Writer’s Block


Writer’s resistance often comes from fear, but sometimes it comes from not understanding and respecting the creative process and our own unique way of working within that process. We get wrapped up in how we think we should write and worried that we’re doing it wrong.

  • “I should have this figured it out by now.”
  • “I should know what I’m going to write before I start.”
  • “I should be able to write the first draft perfectly.”
  • “I should be able to write no matter how chaotic my office or my life is.”
  • “It should be easy to write.”
  • “I should be more productive.”

As David Bayles and Ted Orlando write in Art and Fear, “The artist’s life is frustrating, not because the passage is slow, but because he imagines it to be fast.”

When we believe in shoulds that have no real basis in reality, we set ourselves up for frustration and failure.

When we try to force ourselves to work in a way that isn’t natural, we create friction, aka resistance. It’s not the way we work that’s the problem, it’s thinking that the way we work is a problem that’s the problem.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: What if the way you work is really okay? What if you stopped spending so mental and creative energy beating yourself up for not working the way you should and just worked the way that works for you?

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