Gretchen Rubin is the author of the bestselling nonfiction books The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and Happier at Home.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
Write every day. By writing regularly, and staying inside a project, I keep myself engaged, energetic, and creative. Henry Miller wrote, "When you can't create you can work." If I'm stuck and don't know what to write, I spend the writing time to edit what I've already written, review my notes, or re-read earlier sections. Before long, I find myself writing.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
My most important mantra: Have something to say! This sounds so obvious, but it is so, so important. Every time I've had trouble writing, it was because I didn't have something to say. Once I had an idea clearly in my mind, and a sense of urgency about relating it, my writing became much easier. For instance, when I was trying to write my college essay. I was having a horrible time, until I thought of what I wanted to say, and then I wrote quickly, revised endlessly and with great pleasure, and now that essay is one of my favorite things I've ever written.
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
I love M. Somerset Maugham's The Summing Up. There he gives two maxims for playwriting that I apply to my writing, as well: “But I think the secret of playwriting can be given in two maxims: stick to the point and whenever you can, cut.”