Writer's block  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity. It can be contrasted to graphomania.


Origins of writer's block

Writer's block can be closely related to depression and anxiety two mood disorders that reflect environmentally caused or spontaneous changes in the brain's frontal lobe. This is in contrast to hypergraphia, more closely linked to mania, in which the changes occur primarily in the temporal lobe. These processes, and their implications for treatment, are described in neurologist Alice Flaherty's book The Midnight Disease.

However, another interpretation of writer's block, sometimes confused with scant output, is given in the book Silences, by Tillie Olsen, who argues that historically many women and working-class writers have been unable to devote themselves to, or concentrate on, their writing because their social and economic circumstances prevent them from doing so.

It is widely thought that writer's block is part of a natural ebb and flow in the creative process. Author Justina Headley explains in keynote speeches that for her it comes from losing touch with the characters about whom she is writing; and that by discovering who they are again, the block disintegrates.

Writer's block as a chronic problem

There have been cases where writer's block has lasted for years or decades. The most notable example of this in modern literary history was Henry Roth's writer's block which persisted for sixty years and was caused by a combination of depression, political problems, and an unwillingness to confront past problems. This kind of writer's block seems to be quite rare, and most writer's block lasts for shorter periods or simply a particular sitting. Writer's block has caused problems for writers using the serial form, such as Stephen King's The Green Mile.

Dramatic depictions of writer's block

Not writing

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Writer's block" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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