Bad Advice Wednesday: Stop Doing That!

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour


I visited a physical therapist after my neck surgery, and he was a great help as I recovered from that trauma.  While I was there, what the heck, I asked about a chronic, painful issue I was having with my elbow.  Not from tennis, not from skiing, not from softball, not even from typing–I hadn’t been doing those things since my neck injury.  No, my elbow problem–nothing to do with my spine–was the result of hitting it on the door frame as I walked into the very, very familiar bathroom at my house.  It’s an old place, and that doorway is narrow, and I just judged it wrong, repeatedly judged it wrong and smacked my elbow, so often, in fact, that I’d raised a bony lump on my right wing, painful, and sticking out the way it was, even more likely to get banged.  I told Dennis the P.T. about this.  He didn’t even have to think, just shot back his advice: “Stop doing that!”  We laughed, but he was serious, and he was right. He even had instructions: “Think about how you go through that door and go through that door a different way!  Slow down, tuck your arms in.  Or, Bill, just pause and think before you go in there!”  And that’s what I did, stopped hitting that door frame with my elbow, and now after years of chronic pain, my elbow is fine.  So that’s my advice for today, with thanks to a great professional: “Stop doing that!”  Whatever it is that’s making you hurt, whatever it is that’s keeping you from doing what you want to do, whether it’s writing, reading, thinking, making, or being, whatever you’re doing that isn’t for the good?  Stop!  Stop right now!  Stop doing that!

  1. Debora writes:

    I was at a workshop with Ron Carlson. I was so relieved when he talked about his struggle, at times, to sit down and write. He always found so many other things to do–house repairs, errands…I was relieved that this established writer struggled with my same struggle, and I was relieved to know that this did not mean that I wasn’t really a writer. For me it is not precisely procrastination, it is more like an anxiety and this weird impulse to clear all the decks to create a calm creative space. The problem is that the decks never ever clear.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Bill’s post. And I could use some more explicit advice.

    How do all of you visiting Bill and Dave’s manage to make your writing happen?

  2. Richard Gilbert writes:

    Okay! No more banging my head on the wall when the words just don’t come. Maybe that headache will go away?