Traditional Publishing

Why is it so hard to sit down and write?

By Emily Hanlon
Writing and Creativity Coach – Sunday July 26, 2009

Creativity is a subtle and magnificent dance between the rational and the intuitive, between the left and right parts of the brains, between technique and imagination. Both partners in this dance are absolutely necessary and are needed in equal proportion, which means that imagination is not more important than technique and visa versa. 

If you only live in the imagination, you will never get organised, you will never complete your story. However, if you start from the rational, linear, organisational part of the process, (i.e. Gotta have the perfect opening sentence and first paragraph… better yet, an outline…) you will never fall into the rich, passionate cosmic landscape of the imagination where anything is possible. 

Overwhelming, the main problem I have seen in my thirty years of teaching writing is over-dependence on the rational part of the equation. People want to get the story written and "get it out". They want to leapfrog the process, get the words down on the page and finish the story. Not that there is anything wrong with finishing your story! There's not. It is a great accomplishment, one to be celebrated, regardless of whether or not the story or book ever gets accepted for publication! However, it is in the writing that the writer experiences the deeper life-enhancing journey of creativity.

There are so many examples of ways we short-cut the gifts the creative process offers. Take, for example, the adage, "Write what you know". If you write from what you know, if you remain slavish to the facts of what happened, you are writing out of your conscious mind and will remain stuck in the straightjacket of your conscious perception of "reality". This is contradictory to creativity which, by definitions, is brings into existence that which has not been before. 

That said, there is nothing wrong with using your life or any aspect of your experiences as a jumping off point or a doorway into the unconscious. The key is not to be slavish to the known. Rather we need to have our writer's antenna on the lookout for the doorway into the unknown and the unseen. Gertrude Stein put it this way: "You cannot go into the womb to form the child... What will be best in it (your writing) is what your really do not know now. If you knew it all it would not be creation but dictation."

About the Author

Emily Hanlon has been a writing coach for over thirty years. She demystifies the writing process with her two pronged approach of teaching technique and unleashing creativity. In addition to private coaching, she offers, workshops, retreats, teleseminars and teleworkshops. Her novel,Petersburg, reached the best sellers list in England. In addition to five other works of fiction, she has written a book on writing, The Art of Fiction Writing or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying. Her websites are: and