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How Hollywood Cures Writer’s Block

Therapist Barry Michels specializes in creative types, and has built a client list out of top Hollywood talent. According to a profile in the New Yorker, Michels helped one blocked writer hash out an academy award-winning script. Now, most of us poor scribes can’t afford Michels’ rates, but we have been afforded a glimpse how treatment works:

By far the most common problem afflicting the writers in Michels’s practice is procrastination, which he understands in terms of Jung’s Father archetype. “They procrastinate because they have no external authority figure demanding that they write,” he says. “Often I explain to the patient that there is an authority figure he’s answerable to, but it’s not human. It’s Time itself that’s passing inexorably. That’s why they call it Father Time. Every time you procrastinate or waste time, you’re defying this authority figure.”

Procrastination, he says, is a “spurious form of immortality,” the ego’s way of claiming that it has all the time in the world; writing, by extension, is a kind of death. He gives procrastinators a tool he calls the Arbitrary Use of Time Moment, which asks them to sit in front of their computers for a fixed amount of time each day. “You say, ‘I’m surrendering myself to the archetypal Father, Chronos,’ ” he says. ‘I’m surrendering to him because he has hegemony over me.’ That submission activates something inside someone. In the simplest terms, it gets people to get their ass in the chair.”

That kind of wisdom goes for nearly four hundred bucks an hour, and thanks to the New Yorker, it’s available online for free. Does the exercise described work? Try it and let us know. It’s like you’re stealing therapy!

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