How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure

How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure

How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure

How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure

Synopsis

This book, by a psychologist with two decades of investment in writers, depicts his programs for instilling patience, pacing, constancy, and resilience in writing. He shows how writers proceed to comfort and fluency by detailing strategies, rules, and turning points for a diversity of writers--professional, professorial, and otherwise. The result is a thorough-going discussion of what helps writers and a review of the broad literature that program participants found most helpful.

Excerpt

My own headlong adventures prompted the appearance of this book. Two years ago, in what began as an idyllic rock climb on the Appalachian trail, I acted impatiently and injured my jaw. Suddenly, days that had been filled with talking as a psychotherapist and teacher were constrained. I could speak, but only briefly, softly; the pain and disequilibrium worsened if I talked too much. My first thoughts were self-pitying. Then I decided to turn this disappointment to advantage. I would take some of the time I had spent talking to write about my experiences helping writers find comfort and fluency.

I had already published things about my writing programs. But most of my writing on writing appears in little-read scholarly journals and in a slim book for professors who want to be more productive. The writers I had worked with saw the failing. Too much had been left implicit: the long journeys of frustration and discovery for writers; the detailed ways that writers actually change their habits and attitudes; the surprising emphasis in my programs on patience and planfulness. For over a decade, my writers had cajoled me to write about what we actually did together. They said, affectionately, that what I had previously revealed in print failed to help people who lacked the motivation, ideas, and good models for building useful habits and self-discipline. Notably, these friendly critics assured me, my prior stuff lacked the force to instill faith that my programs worked. What I labored so hard to impart week after week hadn't come across in my public accounts.

I liked these encouragements but they frightened me. I wondered: How could readers be expected to endure so lengthy an account and so gradual a procedure? "After all," I said to some recent graduates of my programs, "there are six program steps, each of them sometimes lasting for a couple of months, and innumerable turning points where writers make decisions and draw insights." The answer seemed obvious to everyone but me. "Why not," as one of them put it, "simply do the book the way you do your sessions with us? You've never had problems recruiting people for your programs, despite their . . .

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