In the world of writing the term “writer’s block” is used so often it is nearly trite. Well who am I kidding, that term dances on the head of trite, and has long since graduated to “Great! Now I have the urge to beat kittens and burn little puppies!” sort of term. It’s sort of like the macarena of writing. Unfortunately, just like the macarena, no matter how painfully trite the term writer’s block has become, it is very real and what’s more, it has the fortitude of a WWE 400lbs wrestler; in your face, with an unlimited portion of hands-on “play-time”.
It all began when psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler coined the term writer’s block in 1947, he stating that,
“writer’s block may be total or partial and its earliest manifestation may be feelings of insecurity regarding one’s creativity, the development of terseness in style, and looking to others for ideas for future projects.”
Bergler went on to define writer’s block as
having it’s roots to oral masochism and superego driven need for punishment.
So basically my suspicions about being a writer are proven correct. Being a writer is not too unlike asking a complete stranger to insult you, and then pee on your shoes, then bend you over and give you an atomic wedgie before sending you on your merry way.
It’s not really all that comforting to realize that in the world of fiction, writer’s block never ends well. For every writer who has ever suffered from this condition there are as many movies and books which depict the main character lost in the deep depths of writer’s block, the normal story line usually ends with the writer going bat-shit crazy and burying the hatchet in their wife, while their imaginary friend cheers them on. Stephan King is notorious for writing stories about aspiring writers, who succumb to evil due to lack of inspiration, and the inner masochist Bergler spoke of.
The saying goes, “The Greeks have a god for it”, and thus we have the word, muse. A muse was once believed to be an ethereal being whose job was to inspire the artiste. Plato, Shakespeare and Mendelssohn all had their muses to give credit to for their master pieces. However in 2004, along came Dr Alice Weaver, and proved to the world that creative writing is actually a perfect balanced connection between our temporal lobes and our limbic system, via the cerebral cortex. It has been suggested that writer’s block isn’t simply a mentality affected by our circumstances, but can also be an actual neurological reaction to stress, wherein the author’s brain shifts creative control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system, which is responsible for our emotional responses. Thus, our creative flow, is restricted by fear, anxiety, and depression. In layman’s terms what this means is, as soon as Dr. Alice Weaver published her second book, The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain, all muses existing in our universe went poof! and disappeared. And the score still remains to this day, Science 1 – Gods 0. No overtime in this game to be sure.
In doing my routine research for this article, which I should add is actually my personal endeavor to defeat my own personal bout with writer’s block. Yes it happens to most mediocre of us. I stumbled upon a condition, (Wikipedia is awesome!) called hypergraphia.
Hypergraphia is an overwhelming urge to write. It is not itself a disorder, but can be associated with temporal lobe changes in epilepsy and mania in the context of bipolar disorder.
I have never been diagnosed for bipolar disorder, but I have had a few ex-wives with it. Nor do I have epilepsy. Mania, I’m not sure about that one. I mean perhaps I can squeeze in marginally. I do have a good friend who is a psychologist, and perhaps I could get her to do me a favor and diagnose me with mania or bipolar disorder, because I would love to have hypergraphia. I mean sure it has its down sides, what with having this uncontrollable urge to document your entire day for your entire life! I mean I have no plans of becoming a serial killer, and I highly doubt I will ever get the tap on the shoulder for Vice President like Senator Bob Graham.
Al Gore considered Sen. Bob Graham for his running mate in 2000, but reconsidered once it was discovered that Sen. Graham had hypergraphia and well over 4000 note books of his journals which spanned from 1977 to 2003. Apparently there was this concern for letting a person who has an uncontrollable need to jot down everything they do, see, and hear, be head of NASA, and privy to CIA briefings otherwise known as “serious matters of state”. Still I consider hypergraphia to a struggling writer like myself, to be equivalent to an obese person secretly wishing they could contract a serious disease in order to lose weight. Don’t jeer! You know we all have pondered it.
Unfortunately I do not have an uncontrollable urge to write, I have an old online journal somewhere with only one entry from 2003 and a blog with sporadic posts as proof of that. What I do have is a shit load of ideas for what I believe will be awesome stories. However, my 350 lbs muse in my head has my creative inner me, in a full nelson. It sort of plays out like that extremely uncomfortable scene in Pulp Fiction where we meet Zed the pawn shop owner and The Gimp.
My muse keeps my inner creative me bound and gagged drumming his fingers on the leather mask, debating what he should allow the little masochist to write. To which it pleads with, “rrrummph!”.
One last point about writer’s block. the most common cause for writer’s block, is well… the writer. Hence the possessive apostrophe in the very word, writer’s. Our environment can betray our efforts to write. After all, no matter appearances, our entire lives are not about writing, that is to say, writers just like any other human being have other things to do. Family rely on us, Law And Order marathons, and reruns of Battle Star Galactica, (not the shitty Loren Green version, but Edward James Olmos version). Bills to pay, trash to take out, and in my case an 8 month old daughter who takes needy to all new levels of insanity! What? I didn’t tell you I am a stay at home dad also? Well that I will save for my next post. Till then, just keep, well you know staring at the blank screen or something.