Avoiding Writing – A Different Way Out

  • The summer’s here and this is your time to write – but you’re not writing.
  • You have an upcoming deadline and intended to get started weeks ago, but that hasn’t happened yet.
  • Your project is overdue and people are asking when the text is coming, but the days go by without you looking at it.

Avoiding writing can feel like we are rebelling against ourselves. The cycle of wanting to write, not writing, then wishing that we had written draws many of us into self-criticism, anxiety and resentment.

And because the solution seems so obvious – “I need to get started, I need to get into action” – this avoidance can feel lonely too. Scant are the possibilities for talking about it with others in a way that doesn’t make us feel worse.

You know you’re not lacking ideas, writing skills, the ability to organize yourself and manage your time. You’ve done it before, you’ll do it again.

Yet breaking out of avoidance is hard. You’ve tried taking a rest, clearing other tasks off your desk, removing distractions, setting goals, finding or creating a conducive workspace. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself to ‘just’ get on with it — to be more motivated and disciplined. But it hasn’t really worked.

Here’s why: avoidance has a vitality all of its own.

In the push to discipline ourselves, we tend to overlook the wisdom and paradoxes contained in the flow of our avoidance.

In the rush to stop avoiding – because we want to be writing – we forget that it, too, is part of how we are in relationship with our work.

And herein, in exploring and caring for that relationship, lies the key to finding a different way out.

If you’ve been circling your writing and wondering if, how, and when you’re going to land, this workshop is for you.

With my friend and colleague Chin Chuan Fei, a philosopher and counsellor-in-training, I’ll lead you into an inquiry on writing-avoidance that opens into the discovery of new possibilities. 

What are the different flavours of avoidance? How can you recognize what’s going on here and now, in you? What might it be to lean into rather than fight yourself over the drama of avoidance? 

In the workshop you’ll be invited to:

  • listen to yourself, through embodiment, compassion and connection, for what’s here to discover
  • approach your writing from that place
  • find connection with others through sharing your writer’s stance

Sometimes the places where you feel most dysfunctional are also places of great creativity, and doorways for reclaiming your writing as truly yours. On the basis of embodied inquiry and a compassionate process we’ll be asking ourselves and each other: in the space of avoidance, what choices are available?

About the facilitators

Catelijne Coopmans has been fascinated with the human side of academic work and career-building for a long time. Her experiences working full-time in various academic positions and (inter)disciplinary environments in the UK and Singapore, paved the way for a second career in life coaching and embodied facilitation, for which she started training in 2016. She now offers coaching and group workshops for academics online from her home in Spain. She also remains active in research, academic writing and editing, holding an appointment at the University of Linköping in Sweden.

Chin Chuan Fei is a philosopher based in Singapore and London, with awards in interdisciplinary research and teaching. He collaborates with students and colleagues to develop writing practices that draw on their unique voices and values. His interest in creative and compassionate conversations led him to train as a counsellor, with clinical experience in psychosocial rehabilitation. He has trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, narrative therapy, and mindfulness-based practices.