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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.

Track Your Way Past Writer’s Block to Writing Success

Writing habits trump resistance. If you want to make it easier to write and write regularly, you need writing habits. (I suggest regularly showing up for short sessions of Process, Product Time and Self-care as the basic habits every writer should give her/himself.)

To create or improve your writing habits (or to change any other behavior), you have to Pay Attention.

How Do We Know Attention Is Essential?

Researchers trained monkeys to detect subtle difference in vibrations on a disk spinning beneath their fingers. When the monkeys learned to do this, their somatosensory cortex changed. They literally changed their brains.

BUT when the monkeys were distracted with music during training sessions, their somatosensory cortex did not change. Because they weren’t paying attention, they couldn’t learn the new pattern of vibrations.

When you pay attention, you can change your brain to create the writing habits you want.

Habits Free Your Attention

Once you establish a habit, you don’t have to pay as much attention to maintain it. The behavior becomes, well, habitual. When you give yourself habits that get you to your writing space and past resistance, you’re free to pay attention to what matters most to you: what you’re writing and how satisfying it is to be writing.

How to Pay Attention

One of the most effective ways to pay attention to track your commitments and what you do to honor those commitments every day. Tracking gives you the focused attention you need to build habits. It also makes the weekly check-ins I recommended in my last post so much easier because you have the information at your fingertips.

Students in my Writing Habit class who consistently track their progress are more successful in honoring their commitments and feel more satisfied than students who are haphazard in recording their performance.

You’ll find a tracking form for the Three Habits (Process, Product Time and Self-care) and a more detailed Product Time tracking form on the Around the Writer’s Block Forms page. Modify these to suit you or create your own simple tracking system.

Please let me know how tracking works for you.


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