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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.

New Book Update: What’s the Opposite of Writer’s Block?


hypergraphiaHypergraphia is the compulsion to write. While I don’t have a clinical case of hypergraphia, typically caused by brain disorders, my desire to work on my novel rewrite has grown progressively more intense in the past two weeks.

This morning, I drafted the two penultimate chapters! I had to push myself to stop drafting today – all I really want to do is leap into that last chapter.

I love being in process, taking my time, figuring things out, trying different strategies, keeping my options open (I’m an INFP if you know Myers-Briggs types). But I also love the satisfaction of completion.

And I’m so close to finishing this draft, I can almost taste it. Working on my novel has always been the fun stuff, even when I wrestled with it. The days when I can immerse myself in my novel are always my favorites. But I’m starting to wonder if I’m procrastinating, not from my writing, but via my writing.

promises to keepYou see, I have other commitments I need to honor, including writing this post, preparing a proposal for a class I want to teach next spring, and prepping for the Brain Science class that starts next Tuesday. But I’d rather be drafting that last chapter.

I need to write my pitch for the Loft’s Pitch Conference on November 13 and 14. I need to draft a fairly polished version for a pitch practice session this Saturday. I need to write a query letter and a synopsis.

But that’s not what I want to write. For the last week and a half, I keep postponing work on these priorities so I can focus on the novel. I’m tempted to quit this post now so I can sneak in another hour on the novel.

I guess what I have is Selective Hypergraphia.

In these New Book Update posts, I try to find some insight that will benefit you, my patient, loyal and tolerant reader. I’m not exactly sure what that might be this time. Here are my best guesses:

  • Sometimes you have to be professional (i.e. adult) about your responsibilities. Sometimes you have to find an excuse for skimping on commitments so you can send more time and energy with the writing you love.
  • Revising a novel can easily turn into rewriting the novel. Rewriting is a LOT more work. And a lot more fun.
  • Little gifts of inspiration add up if you make room for them.You can hold only so many inspirations and ideas at one time. The sooner you record or apply inspirations and ideas, the sooner you clear mental space for new possibilities. Read more…
  • Adding a third POV character is not something you can do by inserting a few chapters. Like redecorating, one change will lead to another.
  • Like redecorating, you need a plan so you don’t take out load-bearing walls or triple your budget. My index cards, tables, timeline and other tools I’ve written about in other New Book Updates got me through without collapsing the entire structure.
  • You have to be willing to modify the plan when necessary.
  • The trick is recognizing when it’s necessary.

If you can glean more writing-related benefits from my Selective Hypergraphia or have your own experience with and lessons learned from Selective Hypergraphia I’d love to see your comments.

Can I go play with my novel now?

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