Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Incurable Disease of Writing

Taken from an interview by Paula Byron, found in the Autumn 2003 issue of the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin.
Hypergraphia—the medical term for an overpowering desire to write.
Certain brain conditions can trigger it, and they all seem to involve the temporal lobes. It was Norman Geschwind [’51] and colleagues who first showed an association between temporal lobe epilepsy and hypergraphia.

Writer's blockall blocked writers share two traits: they don’t write despite being intellectually capable of doing so, and they suffer because they’re not writing. One of the tragedies of block is that it also afflicts unknown people—talented individuals who just disappear from their fields because they stop being able to produce... Also, some blocked writers struggle with critical inner voices. The writer Anne Lamott personified one of these critics as, “the vinegar-lipped Reader Lady, who says primly, ‘Well that’s not very interesting, is it?’” Low doses of atypical dopamine antagonists may quieten those inner voices.

Clearly, though, you don’t have to be sick to be creative. It may be that engaging in creative work not only is a sign of health, but also makes you healthy. The relationship between illness and creativity doesn’t mean we should foster disease. Perhaps we should think of creativity as an adaptive response to difficult situations such as illness...In psychological terms, it seems that drive is more important than talent in producing creative work.

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