Not so elementary, Watson: Sleuthing the origins of writing problems

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the "The Case of the Shrinking Word Count."

Regarding writing productivity problems,  I believe it was Sherlock Holmes who said,”It’s not so elementary, my dear Watson.” If he did not say these precise words, he should have. As with any unsolved mystery, sometimes we need to study the clues more carefully to shed light on the matter.

Not all writing  productivity problems require an extensive retrospective analysis in order to be successfully addressed, but if your issues with blocks and procrastination are resistant to  change, it may be useful. In such cases, it is wise to wonder, “What would Sherlock do?” Well, faced with an investigation of intractable writer’s block, Detective Holmes would ask questions like these:

~What is your earliest memory of writing?

~What were your school writing experiences like? What habits did you develop during you education?

~When did you realize you wanted to be someone who writes? Why?

~Have you had traumatic experiences related to writing as a child or as an adult?

~When did your writing productivity difficulties begin?

~What messages, positive or negative, did you receive from family or others, about you as a writer?

~Who has helped you with writing, and who has hindered you?

~Have you had times when the blocks receded and you were able to write fluently? Why?

There are many more questions that Sherlock might ask, but I think you get the idea. If enough clues turn up, you might start to understand how you got to where you are, and this may lead to some new and fruitful ideas about how to address the problems. Even the exercise of responding to these questions might help you see things in a new light.

In the very least, this exercise will help you hone in more specifically on the issues that need the most attention. Take time with each question and try writing your answers to the above questions. This will get the words flowing, which is what Sherlock Holmes really wants anyway.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Famous writers, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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