You sit at the computer or hold your pen suspended over a blank sheet of paper and wait…and wait…and…well, you wait some more. You wait for the inspiration, for the muse to visit, for the right words to come to you. You are stuck and that sucks. It’s frustrating and scary. “What if I can’t write? I’ll never be able to write what I want to say, the story I want to tell!” That is a common low point in a writer’s life.
Does that feeling ring true to you? Well, how about this feeling?:
“I feel joy when I’m writing well,” she continues, smiling. “I have my bad days, and I’m terrified of writer’s block. But in the end, the joy of finding even one good verb makes it all worthwhile.”
Those are the words of Harvard Medical School neurologist Alice Flaherty, who writes of her bouts of hypergraphia. So to understand the mania, imagine a day where you are struck with the compulsion to write. Continuously. Non-stop and non-deferential to any schedule or person. You. Must. Write. And keep writing.
Dr. Flaherty tells of her personal journey through grief after the death of her premature twins, when her family feared she would be engulfed in depression. But instead she burst into creativity. She helps us understand how our brains work. And how brain function affects creativity. She works with Dr. Shelley Carson, whom I introduced previously on this blog. They do fascinating research on creativity.
If the creative process is of interest to you, or if you just want to know why you struggle to get your writing or your art done, you may want to read more about their good work. Hypergraphia. It’s worth writing about.