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The Best Self-Help Book for Writers Like Ever – Bloggin’ on the ETC [BOOK WEEK II]

I like to read at least one self-help book and one writing book every year. But this year I got lucky, because the best self-help book I read also happened to be a great guide to handling the uglier emotional aspects of writing like fear, doubt, and chronic procrastination. It’s called THE TOOLS, and it changed my writing life.

I first heard about co-writer, Barry Michels, a therapist who is particularly popular among Hollywood screenwriters, in this New Yorker article. The article (which is very much worth reading in full) made me long to have the money and clout to see this unconventional therapist once a week myself, but I am in possession of neither, so I settled for buying THE TOOLS, the book he co-authored with his mentor, Phil Stutz.

The core of Michels’s and Stutz’s philosophy might be summed up as “Stop whining about your problems and address them already with this set of tools we’re giving you.” As a consummate whiner and chronic problem haver, I found this approach refreshing.

And even better, it worked! Writing-wise, I’ve never been happier. I fret, procrastinate, and beat myself up less. And I find myself more than grateful for the tools as I go about my day-to-day writing life.

Can’t get yourself to face the blank page? There’s a tool for that! Worried that your writing isn’t good enough, won’t ever be good enough? There’s a tool for that! Prone to self-sabotage? There’s a tool for that! The pessimistic voices in your head getting you down? There’s a tool for that!

Anyone who has ever been prone to spiraling into self-doubt in the middle of the night will appreciate having a tool that effectively shuts down negative thoughts and allows you to get back to sleep. I’ve had “hamster wheel” sleep issues since college, but lately the only thing that keeps me up at night is the fact that I’m heavily pregnant. Being able to ascribe my now only occasionally problematic sleep to physical annoyances is both a relief and a joy.

And looking at the book’s consistently high Amazon ranking, I imagine its helped quite a few other people the way its helped me.

Caveat: I don’t recommend this book in replacement of therapy. As much as I joke about being neurotic, the emotional storms surrounding non-career issues like miscarriage, grief and other life-changers deserve the engagement of a therapist, if you have access to a good one.

However, this is what I would call must-read self-help for would be and career artists alike. Also, it’s a fairly quick read and well-worth the price. So do give it a read and let me know what you think.