Overcoming Writer’s Block, Procrastination and Other Writing Problems: Tips From A Psyhchotherapist

This week on Scriptnotes, they decide to air a previous episode requested by many listeners. Episode 99 which features Dennis Palumbo, a psychotherapist who was a former screenwriter who now works with helping screenwriters with things to help them with their work and things in their life that effects their work. This was an enlightening and interesting discussion with a lot of noteworthy insight.

He opens the discussion by examining what goes on through a writers head when they sit down & write. He specializes in understanding our own psychology to help writers understand the things to help not procrastinate, working through writer’s block, overcoming the fear of rejection and failure etc.

He explains how issues in writers personal life will reflect their work. Writers block may make the feeling of not feeling good enough because you assign meanings that make you feel blocked elsewhere. He thinks writers block is good because it can be a developmental stage for an artist before a burst of creativity soon to come. It can help to navigate through the block and take the power away from it so you can help overcome that hump.

He says that the writers feelings aren’t predictive. Just because you feel like you can’t or it’s bad doesn’t mean you can’t or it’s not. Don’t assign meaning to things in the development process. Don’t hold others up to perfection, we don’t see others struggle. He explains how screenwriting it’s constant failure and risk; it’s an endurance test until the script is completed and even then could still fail as a project.

He continues to discuss how most people procrastinate because they believe the finished project won’t be good so we would rather have the small shame of still needing to finish it. He explains how people make rituals around our work to push our work down later. He says learn to write when you are uncomfortable because trying to wait for the perfect time will most likely never come.

He also talks about people who feel like need to be on some kind of substance to be creative as well as feeling like you need to write for large spans of time during the day. For both of those things you don’t, if you can be moderate and set out 2-3 hours a day to write and stat persistent it will help, but there are no rules it’s just whatever works best for you. He ends the discussion by saying that you don’t have to do anything.

Palumbo had a ton of insight to overcome some of the simple obstacles every writer faces and I recommend to listen to this episode several times and takes notes, it could help you in the long run.

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