4 Lessons That Psychology Can Offer Writers

Being a psychologist has taught me a lot about creativity in general and writing in particular. When I wrote “The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits”, I knew that creative writers would be helped by a book that compiled tons of information about personality and behavior and turned it all into easily accessible lists. Since then, I’ve been thinking about other ways that psychological information can be directly useful to writers.

 Here are the 4 Lessons I have for today.

1. Work is work is work (sounds a bit Gertrude Stein-like). Sticking with your work, whether it is editing your book, working on a plot, planting flowers or solving your psychological problems matters very much. Don’t avoid. Have courage.

2. We all have an internal rhythm. Learn what it is and use it as best you can. Learn when to work, what conditions you need, how to read your own emotions, and learn what pulls you away from your work (and dismantle the things that work against you).

3. Increase your freedom. I’m big on freedom, philosophically and personally. You need freedom in your mind to be able to think.  Being dominated by oppressive voices – inside or out- impedes creative work until you can harness it. Freedom first; editing second.

4. Be open to books, other people and their ideas BUT don’t let them trample on you. After hearing, reading, and examining what other voices tell you, go back into your own mind and make your decisions.

What Do I Say? The Therapist’s Guide to Answering Client’s Questions with Charles Waehler, Ph.D., was published by John Wiley & Sons in May, 2011.  It is a friendly book designed to reduce the anxiety of early career therapists who may feel apprehensive about answering clients’ questions.  You can read more about it on my blog and purchase it on

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