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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.

Bless Your Agony – It Will Lead You to Write

maya angelouIt helps to surrender yourself to the story (poem, essay, script, etc.) early in the day when your creative energy is highest. You won’t get all of the story out, but your unconscious will trust you to return tomorrow and so won’t find it necessary to send you agony signals the rest of the day.

The agony, unease or nagging sense of guilt is a message coded in emotion that something significant is missing and you need to do something about it. You need to write.

Here’s how I explain it in Around the Writer’s Block:

“The limbic system is not only to “blame” for limbic system takeovers [aka block and other forms of resistance], it is also the source of valuable information the cortex can’t perceive.

“The limbic system does not include the language centers, so we don’t have words when the limbic system detects something significant. Emotions are the limbic system’s only language.

“And since the limbic system knows things the cortex doesn’t, paying attention to how we feel about our writing is our smartest move. Of course, you need your cortex to interpret emotions and plan a course of action, but you can trust that your emotions are there for a reason.” (p. 157)

Bless your agony, unease or guilt because it is what will motivate you to write. When agony arises, it comes from the urge to write slamming into the fear of writing.

Writing habits make it easier because they soothe the limbic system and reduce the fear. When you follow habits, you don’t need to be driven by unease or guilt. Following your habits eases the pressure of the untold story.

I didn’t develop writing habits out of virtue; I just have a low tolerance for discomfort. If showing up for 15 minutes for my writing early in the day means I won’t feel agony, sign me up!

How much agony, guilt or unease does it take to get you writing?


Rosanne Bane, Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance, 2012, Tarcher/Penguin/Random House, p.157.

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4 Comments on “Bless Your Agony – It Will Lead You to Write”

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  2. Isabell April 24, 2014 at 1:12 am #

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  1. Writing Failure Lesson #2: Feel it Fully | Bane of Your Resistance - March 18, 2016

    […] mix of emotions come up, let yourself feel them completely. You might want to try to deny emotions or shrug them off, but that will just get you […]


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