In Dr. Rachel Ballon’s book The Writer’s Portable Therapist: 25 Sessions to a Creativity Cure, she writes about the hobgoblins of writers: self-doubt, procrastination, unrealistic expectations. Ballon’s book offers nuggets of advice and plenty of support and encouragement for all kinds of writers. Below are the questions Ruth Folit of Chronicles Software Company posed and Dr. Ballon’s responses:
Q. Tell us a little about your background: How long have you been in practice? How many clients have you seen who are writers looking for help? Who is the typical/composite person who you help in becoming a more creative, productive writer?
A. I have had dual careers for the past 26 years, first as a psychotherapist specializing in writer’s personal and professional issues and then as a writing consultant. Since most of my practice is comprised of writers, I’ve seen hundreds of them from rank beginners to experienced professionals. The issues are numerous but the most prevalent ones range from personal therapy to overcome depression, to unlock blocks and to break free of fears such as failure, rejection, and procrastination. In fact my latest book The Writers Portable Therapist: 25 Sessions to a Creativity Cure deals with a composite of clients suffering from different blocks to writing and the solutions for overcoming them.
Q. Please tell us about one of your most difficult clients with the most unexpected outcome.
A. One of my clients was such a perfectionist that he couldn’t write at all without his inner critic and his logical mind interfering with the flow. One day I gave him an assignment to write as badly as he could. He looked at me and said, “How bad is bad?” We both laughed but he was well on his way to overcoming his perfectionism, when he saw how ridiculous his question was. He went on to write a novel and has an agent, but he never would have completed his novel if he persisted on being a perfectionist. He learned to let go and just write it.
Q. How does journal writing fit into a writer’s life?
A. I think journal writing is the most important aspect of a writer’s life. Journal writing keeps you connected to your inner writer and your fears, hopes, and dreams. Your journal writing primes the pump for your fictional or non-fictional writing and a journal is a repository where all of your ideas, poetry, creativity, imagination and art are recorded. Most of all a journal is healing and I’ve been conducting journal “Writing to Heal” workshops at rehab centers throughout Los Angeles . The power of expressive writing is healing, helpful, and hopeful. Keep writing in your journal.
Q. Do you have any suggestions for how one can use LifeJournal or LifeJournal for Writers to improve one’s creativity and/or productivity?
A. I have the LifeJournal program and think it’s terrific. The prompts are a wonderful tool to keep you going with your writing or get you started. Just doing the exercises and keeping your Journal up-to-date is a wonderful way to keep your ideas flowing and your creativity flourishing. It also helps writers turn personal events and experiences into fictional short stories and novels. Keep using your LifeJournal and enhancing your writing.
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RACHEL BALLON, Ph.D., is a writer’s psychotherapist and international writing consultant, who coaches writers on personal and professional issues such as overcoming writers block, procrastination, self-esteem and motivation in person, by phone, or via email. Rachel is the author of five widely-acclaimed writing books and is a writer herself. Several of her scripts have been optioned by major studios and she has produced credits on ABC-TV. Learn more about Rachel Ballon through her website, http://www.rachelballon.com.