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Placebo Writing, When All Creative Genius Eludes Us

A placebo does nothing, but makes us think it does. It’s a human or medical intervention that changes the story we tell ourselves, and what are writers if not story-tellers? Done well, those stories are powerful and who’s to know? If they can save the blues (or the day) for some dude who’s lost his way, what’s the worry?

Because the placebos are so mind bending, they change the way readers may interact with themselves, their friends and the world at large. If you think that a copper bracelet is going to relieve your arthritis, or a love story change your afternoon blues when the baby is sleeping, either one might.

But in the last few generations, we’ve built a more and more pessimistic world, even though there’s more snake-oil and less truth. There’s not much you can add to your emotional gas tank that will improve your mileage. It doesn’t matter whether you believe your state-of-mind is running smoother or not–it either is or it isn’t.

But don’t lose hope, a good read is still a good read. Another life lived for 350 pages. Not your life, perhaps, but then your life is what you want to set aside for the moment.

If you’re an author of placebos, then do a proper job to change the reader’s story. An hour spent in someone else’s life can do more to lift a spirit than a nap or an early cocktail.

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