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Interactive video lesson plan for: How to Get Creatively Unstuck: A Lesson from Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer

Activity overview:

Author Jonathan Safran Foer on the two surprising qualities successful writers need. Foer's latest book is "Here I Am" (


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Transcript - I think very often when people refer to being stuck, or this is certainly my own experience and I've talked about it enough with friends, some of whom are writers, some of whom are other kinds of artists, some of them do other things with your life, often times when people refer to being stuck they don't mean like creatively blocked, they don't mean that they don't have any good ideas, they mean that they don't have any ideas that they care about; that nothing they're making feels important to them. When you don't care about something you just don't do a good job with it. Maybe you can for a while. It's possible to fake it for a bit or it's possible to have incentives to do things like I have a deadline or my boss is going to be looking over my shoulder if I don't, but for most of us we do our best work when we care about it.

So when I teach if a student will say something to me like I really love this but I know it's not going to be a good book or I actually have a friend who also teaches who was telling me about an experience he had were a student came up to him and said, "I wrote all these notes for this book I want to write but I find that I never write the book, I just really love working on the notes for the book." And my friend's advice was, "Well, probably the notes are your book. If that's what you love and that's what you're drawn to and you're imagination wants to go there then just let it go there. The worst that can happen is it's a book that will be for nobody but you, but that is actually a much better fate than writing a book that lots of people like that isn't for you." So when something draws my attention, when something feels important or even just pleasurable to me, I work on it even if it's off the track, even if I'm already 60 percent of the way into what I thought was the book I was going to write if I suddenly find that one of the little voices in it is appealing to me more than it ought to, this person I thought was a side character suddenly like elbowing into the middle of the room and just wants to stay there and wants to be the center of attention, I will make that character the center of attention despite it being a very efficient way to work because I know that I have become unsuccessful, I've become stuck, I've become unhappy when I'm working on something that I know isn't really what I care about. Read Full Transcript Here:

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