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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.

How to Get Around Writer’s Block

thinking canstockphoto13109428 (2)Once upon a time, I was a programmer/analyst for a Fortune 500 company. Really.

I don’t know if I’m having flashbacks or what, but I’ve been thinking about the questions writers need to ask and the actions they need to take to recognize and move through resistance as a flowchart.

Flowcharts excel in illustrating a series of decisions and actions more concisely than words can describe. For example, to describe the first 8 boxes in the flowchart, you need all this verbage:

You start with the question: “Am I committed to do Product Time now?”. If you don’t know, you need to make time-specific commitments. If you are not committed to do Product Time now, you ask yourself “Am I inspired?”. If you’re not inspired, you can do something else entirely guilt free. But if you are inspired, you move to the next question “Do I know what to do?”. For the third option to the first question, if you are committed to do Product Time now, you ask yourself if you’re inspired. And so on…

Compare that complexity to the simplicity of the flowchart: Get Around Resistance Flowchart.

Notice if there are boxes in the flowchart that you didn’t know about or that you try to skip. Do those boxes reflect parts of the process where you get stuck or your writing falls off your mental map?

Please let me know which elements of the flowchart you’d like to read more about in upcoming posts.

And please forgive the watermark declaring this flowchart was made with a trial run of SmartDraw; I didn’t think it was worth $200 to buy the software for one blog post. But if I keep thinking in flowcharts, I might spring for the software.

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7 Comments on “How to Get Around Writer’s Block”

  1. Alisha Rohde March 14, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I’m with Kate–action maps would be great! I’m doing a decent job of showing up, and creating to-do lists that are often more ambitious or vague than is feasible, and then I kind of run in place. Working on setting smaller, more manageable goals here, but it seems like the action maps just might help me with that step!


    • Alisha Rohde March 14, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Oh, and the flow chart is marvelous! 🙂


      • rosannebane March 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

        Thanks Alisha for both your comments. I intend to post something on action mapping in the next week or two, so stay tuned.


  2. Joel D Canfield March 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I need support and information about rewarding myself when I’ve done what I committed to. i come from a long line of Puritanical overachievers who thought joy was a dishwashing soap.

    Consider LucidChart for diagramming. Free Google Chrome extension, though it has paid features if you want to design a Saturn V rocket or lay out a new national healthcare system.


    • rosannebane March 13, 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Will do, Joel. One posts (or more) on rewards coming up. In the meantime, and if you want the complete story, might I recommend a nice slice of my book? The Record and Reward chapter is an excellent selection from the menu.


  3. Kate March 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Thank you, Rosanne, for yet another timely post. I’d like to know more about action maps. Something tells me they are not the same as to-do lists or daily/weekly/monthly goal sheets. I even like the name: action map. It sounds adventurous and fun, like a treasure hunt of sorts.


    • rosannebane March 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      You’re welcome Kate. I’ll put action mapping on the list of posts to write.


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