Writing Like Crazy: a Word on the Brain

How can both neuroscience and literature bear on the question of what makes writers not only able, but want, even need, to write? How can we understand the outpouring of authors like Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King? Why does John Updike see a blank sheet of paper as radiant, the sun rising in the morning? (As William Pritchard said of him, “He must have had an unpublished thought, but you couldn’t tell it.”) This seems — and is — an unbelievably complex psychological trait. —Alice Weaver FlahertyWriting Like Crazy: a Word on the Brain (Chronicle)

It’s hard to tell from the title, but this article examines the writing urge and writer’s block (whoops — I typed “blog”) as physiological as well as psychological phenomena, such as suggesting that the November/December creativity slump may be casued by a latent hibernation instinct brought about by shorter days. The article also refers casually to Freud in a way that I find maddening… Freud may be extremely useful as we attempt to understand the modern mindeset, but I think it is naive to refer to him now, when we have so many more scientifically accurate models for describing and affecting human behavior. (But see Mike Arnzen’s defense of Freud [in the comments].)