Ask An Author

Published on August 15th, 2013 | by Devin


Ask An Author: Ken Rabow, Part 8

Ken Rabow is a life empowerment coach and the author of The Slacker’s Guide to Success, a book designed to help teens and young adults discover their strengths. In this multi-part interview, he talks about his philosophies, writing process, favourite books and more.

Do you ever get writer’s block, or have trouble articulating an idea? If so, how do you handle it?

I find there are many kinds of writer’s blocks. One is where nothing comes to me when I am trying to get a certain part of a book done (or even starting a piece of writing). When that happens, I just let myself go and write whatever comes to me. I spend about 30 minutes as “the writer” and then I go back as “the editor”. Often I am pleasantly surprised that some or all of what I wanted to write got written but maybe differently then I thought it would. Sometimes, it ends up being  an idea I file for future projects and sometimes it’s just cleaning out the mental gutters of word-poop. I never let editor-me come into the room until writer-me has done his writing.

Another form of writer’s block is where the characters seem to be stuck and are kind of standing there (in my head) waiting for direction. In that case, I may give them something weird like a funny phrase or a prop to use and the characters will then often spring into action. A famous writer once said “I take no responsibility for the words or actions of my characters”. When we let go, the writing takes care of itself.

Another block I encounter from time to time happens when I have trouble articulating an idea. I write down any words that come to mind and if I have a certain rhythm for a phrase, but don’t have the right words, I will write “blah” instead of a real word, to be filled in later. I have faith that inspiration will come and so it does… eventually. Example: so, you know you’re brilliant, your parents know you’re brilliant and your “blah” thinks you’re “blah” “blah” “blah”. These were the opening words to my book. I wasn’t sure who the last blah was or what they thought. Just then my dog, Bonnie came in carrying one of my socks. I took the opportunity to take a 10 minute break (on a timer) to play sock tag with Bonnie and when I came back I had the last part of the phrase for the opening chapter “and your dog things you’re amazing”.

Sometimes just finishing (even using “blahs”) will set the place for the rest of the words to come to you. (It helps to sometimes play with a good pooch!)

The Slacker’s Guide to Success is out now.

To read more from Ken Rabow, visit his website, his Real Life Coaching center or his articles for The Huffington Post. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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