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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.

So I’m Not Blocked, I’m Frustrated, Now What?

In my last post, we considered the possibility that frustration is not a symptom of writer’s block and that, as Johan Lehrer claims in Imagine, frustration is a necessary part of the creative process.

So if you’re frustrated with time like I am or with something else and are willing to consider that this turmoil might be a step in the right direction, what do we do now?

“Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming”

As Dory in Finding Nemo tells us, we have to just keep swimming, that is, keep looking. In other words, you do your research.

You research until you can’t hold any more information, until you start forgetting what you know. Dory may have had an advantage in this – she was a natural at forgetting.

Part of finding a new insight is letting go of how you currently see the problem, forgetting everything you think you know about the problem.

Fortunately, I recorded the “Does Time Exist” episode of the Science Channel show Through the Wormhole (watch the entire episode) and that certainly helped me forget what I thought I knew.

This discussion of the physics of time  left me even more confused about time. Which, Jonah Lehrer assures me (and as I assure so many students), is a good thing.

Out With the Old

All the confusion and frustration has convinced me to abandon my old paradigm about time. I stop myself as soon as I realize I’m telling myself the old ideas that don’t help: “I don’t have enough time, there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it, time flies, where does the time go, it’s the end of the day and I’ve got nothing to show for it, I should be able to manage my time better, I need better time management tools….”

I don’t have a new paradigm yet. I still don’t know what time is or how to talk and think about it. I’m still waiting for my breakthrough, my “a-ha” insight about time.

But refusing to entertain my old assumptions about time helps. For the past couple of days I haven’t felt rushed, overwhelmed and desperate for time. I feel a lot less stressed and a lot less frustrated. Maybe that’s my breakthrough.

What Do YOU Think?

What’s your paradigm about time?

What metaphors do you use for time? What sayings about time (like “time flies when you’re having fun”) are engrained in your mind?

How do you feel about time? Do you feel like you have enough time for writing and other things you enjoy?

Please comment – I really want to know what time is for you.

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5 Comments on “So I’m Not Blocked, I’m Frustrated, Now What?”

  1. ravilsack May 3, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Hi Rosanne,

    Thanks for these posts; I appreciate your insight! I’ve recently felt overwhelmed, like I’m taking in too much information and not using it productively. A friend said that while it has entered by brain, perhaps it hasn’t settled into my body yet. So I just sit with that uncertainty, knowing that I will “get” it soon enough.

    I gave myself a mantra this year that is very much related to time – “I don’t have time to rush.” Perhaps it’s my paradigm about time. It seems to help me slow down and appreciate whatever task, chore, or paragraph is in front of me right now.



    • rosannebane May 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Thanks Rachel! I love “I don’t have time to rush” — it’s so true. I’m going to incorporate that into my new time paradigm.


  2. Joel D Canfield May 3, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    What is time? For much of my life I lived the dichotomy of always being late, never having enough time, yet, when I was writing code or playing music, being in the zone, in flow, so that time ceased to have meaning.

    Without words to describe flow, I didn’t know what I was experiencing. The more research I’ve done for my books over the past decade the more I realize that flow is a choice—and, therefore, so is time.

    I can slow down and be intentionally present. Eating a meal with my family. Taking a walk with my little girl or a drive with my Best Beloved.

    Or I can make time disappear by creating a flow-friendly environment for my music, my writing, my research.

    After decades of fearing time, I feel now like it’s a tool I can use, almost a toy to play with. If I could get my hair to look like David Tennant’s, I just might qualify as a Time Lord.


    • rosannebane May 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Thanks Joel! I’m intrigued with the idea that since flow is a choice, time is too.

      I can’t always guarantee I’ll move into the flow state, but I can always be responsible for being available to the flow state. I guess it’ll take more than a TARDIS for me to qualify as a Time Lord. (David is our favorite Doctor, although we’ve learned to appreciate Matt Smith.)



  1. I Kid You Not! « The Bane of Your Resistance - May 3, 2012

    […] I love it when synchronicity plops into my life! Last night I finished tweaking the “So I’m Not Blocked, I’m Frustrated, Now What?” post and scheduled it to publish at 7:00 am […]


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