MotherTalk: Getting Unstuck


When I learned that Susan O’Doherty’s book, Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman’s Guide to Unblocking Creativity (Seal, 2007) was going to be part of a MotherTalk blog book tour, I knew I wanted to join the discussion. For a long while now, I’ve been curious about how we get stuck, and unstuck; how we come unglued, and how we put ourselves back together again.

I’ll admit it here: I haven’t been stuck, yet. I also have never had chicken pox, and the two seem similar to me, in that when I was a child, my mother would send me off to play with kids who had chicken pox, so I could get it out of the way. And as a beginning writer, I used to hang out with stuck writers, thinking that maybe, like chicken pox, I could catch it and get it over with, too.

I spent time with writers who lost their focus in the middle of revisions; or had inspiration vanish; or ones who struggled to simply make a start. Ones for whom self-doubt became paralyzing; others who reacted to success with dizzying acts of self-sabotage.

From these writers, I learned three things: there are many ways of being stuck; it’s not contagious; and most often, my best efforts at being helpful fail, because what works for me (creating time and space for writing in my life, protecting it, being gentle with myself on the days when the words are slow to come, and if all else fails, baking spinach-pesto lasagna) might be the very thing that sends another person into Stucks-ville. Everyone has their own creative process–what matters is that yours works for you.

Which brings me to O’Doherty’s book. If you feel stalled in your process, Getting Unstuck is like having a personal coach for your writing life, one you can turn to any time, night or day; one you can visit wearing heels or pajamas; hair washed, or with blue Play-Doh in it. And it’s a lot more fun than chicken pox.

Also, what O’Doherty says about the creative process is important for any artist to consider, stuck or unstuck. I’d like to give this book to every writer I know, but I only have one copy to share. If you want it, leave your name in the comments and I’ll pick a winner at random, in a drawing at the end of the week.

(And an interesting side note: O’Doherty wrote her master’s thesis on the development of creativity in children with Down syndrome…I want to read THAT, too!!!)


23 thoughts on “MotherTalk: Getting Unstuck

  1. Jennifer –

    Hi. As a counterpoint, did you read the article about Arthur Miller in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair. Apparently he worried that his son Daniel would get in the way of his creativity. It is posted on my blog.


  2. Jennifer, thanks!

    I doubt that you’d actually enjoy wading through my entire thesis, but I wrote a journal article based on it that’s more readable–as soon as I get my new scanner working I will email you a copy (and anyone else who’s interested–write me at dr.sue AT mindspring DOT com).

  3. I wish I had a creative bone in my body! LOL Maybe winning this book will help me discover something creative about myself? 🙂

    I never had chicken pox either – at least not as far as either of my parents can recall and you’d think they would remember something like that!

  4. YES!!! I SO want this book! I have been trying to start writing/illustrating children’s books and I have not a clue where to even start. So I’m stuck before I’ve even started…

    Anyhoo. Thanks for the giveaway! Hope I win!!!! 🙂

  5. How wonderful to learn about a book about this thing that happens to all of us- this stuckness. I think comparing it to a disease is incredibly accurate.

    This sounds like a book every writer should have. Hope I win it!

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