Hi, SEers John with you again today. In the past, I have discussed some of the theories around being the best we can be. Today I would like to get into a classic psychological theory that a writer may find helpful should a desire to change some aspects of the writing life be present now or arise in the future.
First, let me set the stage. We will be talking about a fictitious writer. This writer has a set routine when it comes to working on writing projects. This routine has helped keep the writer working in a comfort zone that has in the past produced satisfactory outputs. Suddenly, our writer finds that the writing output has declined significantly. The cause of the decline is not a lack of trying or significant changes in the work routine. At times the writer seems to be at a loss for words. Although the dedication is there, the quality and quantity of the work have declined over time.
With that background, let me introduce Kurt Lewin. Kurt is the father of social psychology. He developed the nursing model known as Change Theory. He theorized a three-stage model of change that is known as the “unfreezing-change-refreeze model.” The essence of the theory is that to make a change in current behavior, prior understanding needs rejection and replaced with new learning. This theory proved valuable in instituting necessary changes in nurse practices given new emerging knowledge about patient care.
Although this model was to aid in the recovery of hospital patients, it can be applied to everyday life generally and to our writing life specifically. So let’s take a look at the model.
There are three elements:
Unfreeze – Certain activities underwent an evaluation and determined that change is needed. For our writer example, it could be any number of things.
- Dissatisfaction with daily productivity
- Unhappiness with the story content
- Too many interruptions while writing.
- Too much time spent editing before continuing
The point is any one of the activities of a writer can come under this review. If the activity needs to be changed, the appropriate action is to eliminate that activity in favor of another.
Change – This is where the old practice is abandoned entirely in favor of the new. Let’s take the list from above and show the changes
- Dissatisfaction with daily productivity. The change here could be to alter the work schedule, which would include more time spent writing
- Unhappiness with the story content. The change here could be to stop the current story and begin a new one.
- Too many interruptions while writing. The change could be to establish a timeframe for writing where interruptions are at a minimum.
- Too much time spent editing before continuing. The change could be writing complete chapters before going back or finishing the whole manuscript before any edits.
In any case, the change has to be radically different from the previous activity. If it is not, then the results might well be disappointing.
Refreeze – This stage involves the utilization of changed behavior exclusively going forward. There are no backward slides or semi-compromises allowed. If the changed behavior is still not solving the problem, then the process has to begin again.
So that is the theory. The net walk away is if a writer is unhappy with any aspect of the writing process, change can happen. This theory gives the writer a framework on how to make the shift produce the ultimate results.
Change can be a frightening prospect. It’s hoped that more control will yield less concern by knowing how to change aspects of the writing life effectively. How about you? Do you have any change stories to tell? Let’s swap them in the comment section.
Thanks and have a great week.