More on writer’s block.

I’m sitting here, pressing my lips against a short mac, waiting, waiting for them. They just don’t come. The words are stuck. I’m sitting here with word constipation. Wordstipation. The coffee smells like roasted hazelnuts.

– written in Melbourne, 21 November 2014,
during a rare turn of wordstipation

Sometimes you set it up so the words will flow, but they don’t. The setting is perfect. The coffee is inspired. The words are– The words are– Arghh!

Back in March, I shared quirky ‘cures’ for writer’s block. Now I’m sharing the science, courtesy of Aerogramme Writers Studio and Dr Patricia Huston.

Apparently, your ability to make creative connections comes down to a specific portion of your brain: your frontal lobe. This area of the brain is responsible for a multitude of functions–“motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior” (Centre for Neuro Skills, 2015)–which is why frontal lobe injuries yield unpredictable results.

Armed with this basic knowledge, I have to wonder how Dr Freeman ever got away with performing his so-called icepick lobotomies

Dr Huston recommends nothing so drastic or barbaric for treating creative blocks. She suggests instead that you read the work of others and nurture a genuine interest in your work, followed by a targeted and step-wise approach reducing anxiety and building confidence:

  1. For a mild block: (1) revise expectations; (2) breakdown tasks and schedules; and (3) use positive self-talk.
  2. For a moderate block, try creative exercises (eg. mind mapping, role playing).
  3. For “recalcitrant” writer’s block, write early and often, and work with supportive others.

If you’re in the midst of a block and you’re reading this post with an air of ‘so what?’ or ‘as if!’, I have to ask: what have you got to lose? It’s a simple process–and one that costs a mere trickle of effort.

So go on. Do it. Smash that block!

And have an excellent week,


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