Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Novel Journey: Author, Psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo ~ Interviewed

Novel Journey: Author, Psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo ~ Interviewed

Former Hollywood screenwriter Dennis Palumbo is now a psychotherapist, book reviewer, and author of both nonfiction books about writing and crime fiction. In his psychotherapy practice he specializes in working with creative people.

Because of my own occasional experience with writer's block, I was most interested in what he has to say on this topic:

Funny you should mention writer’s block, because I hold an unconventional view about it: namely, I think that writer’s block is good news for a writer! In my view, a ‘block’ is merely a stage in your growth in craft as a writer, similar to the developmental stages we all go through as we mature in life.

Just as a toddler needs to struggle---risking and failing over and over, as he or she learns to walk---so too does a writer experiencing a ‘block’ need to learn to navigate and master that particular developmental stage in his or her work. Perhaps the writer is trying to write a more complicated plot than usual, or is delving into difficult personal/sexual material for the first time. Whatever.

And I think the proof that a block is a necessary developmental step in a writer’s growth is that, in my experience, after writers have worked through a block, they report feeling that they’ve grown as writers, that they’re more confident about their craft, or that the work has become more personally relevant.

What a refreshingly different perspective: writer's block as opportunity rather than infirmity. And what he says makes perfectly good sense. I have noticed writer's block seems to set in most often when I'm trying to do something I haven't done before. In my case the blockage most often develops when I'm dealing with sensitive personal material and/or trying to write in a more personal voice than I'm commonly comfortable with. I'm grateful to Palumbo for making me realize this and also for enabling me to see writer's block as a growth opportunity rather than a stumbling block.

There's much more of interest here, so jump on over and read the entire interview.

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