Caving and Writer’s Block


I was going to cave today.  Not literally!  There’s a concrete reason I didn’t join my girls in the cave in the accompanying picture taken in Kona, Hawaii.  That reason is when I am down, I’m claustrophobic.

I was going to use the WordPress Blog Prompt today.   This early morning I felt “bipolared out” and I wanted to write about something else, preferably a profound topic, but nothing came to my sleepy head.  I reminded myself that it would be fine to write about anything. I didn’t have to put pressure on myself to be clever or extraordinarily creative.  The very act of writing is undoubtedly positive, both for my pride and for the stimulation of my electroshocked brain cells.  I decided to allow myself to take advantage of the cute, tempting prompt that appears in WordPress before entering every new post:

“Looking for inspiration? Inspire me!”

But right before I selected that intriguing option, I stopped.  I haven’t read very many blogs, but the few blogs I have read recently are amazing.  The post topics are varied and compelling, the layouts are creative, and the blogosphere selections are seemingly endless.  (Okay, I’m a wee bit jealous and overwhelmed.)  I could spend my entire day reading blogs instead of writing my own, and that’s uber alluring when I am facing writer’s block.

Today my typing output is a little constipated.

It’s hard, you see, because seven years ago, days after Marilla was born, I experienced acute hypergraphia.


My hypergraphia was directly associated with bipolar, and it is defined in Wikipedia as a “behavioral condition characterized by the intense desire to write.  Patients with hypergraphia exhibit a wide variety of writing styles and content. While some write in a coherent, logical manner, others write in a more jumbled style.”

Experiencing hypergraphia was totally bizarre.  I simply could not stop writing and I would even do it while breastfeeding Marilla.  It is the ultimate opposite of writer’s block, and I had all kinds of creative ideas rush forth in my brain.  My writing became more and more indecipherable, so now when I look back at my pages it is disturbing to see scrawls I can’t even read.

Somehow I had the presence of mind, despite it being a jumble of chemicals gone awry, to know something weird was happening.  I used to internet to my advantage to research unstoppable writing and up came Dr. Alice W. Flaherty’s name and her book “The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain”.  In that book Dr. Flaherty discusses hypergraphia at length and her own postpartum mood disorder crisis. The cover of her book is endorsed by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of one of the all-time bestselling books about bipolar: “An Unquiet Mind”.   I ordered Dr. Flaherty’s book and then I actually got ahold of her on the phone in her Massachusetts office.  (She spoke with me and Craig pro bono, which I’ll save for another post.) Our conversation confirmed that the hypergraphia I was experiencing was a very real condition; moreover there great cause for concern in terms of bipolar treatment and she suggested heavy-duty anti-psychotic medication.  (That’s not what a mother wants to hear less than a week postpartum!)

Anyway, I know firsthand what it’s like have words and concepts effortlessly gushing forth from my mind.  I don’t ever want to experience hypergraphia again, but I do want to be able to write consistently and write about worthwhile topics that could help other people.

So even though today I did not resort to the “cheating WordPress prompt” 😉 I will allow myself to use it whenever I need to, and let go of my judgmental “‘tudes” as best as I can. I suspect that caving, whether exploring the mysterious earth’s chambers or allowing yourself to give in to a previously self-banned, harmless action, can be satisfying beyond words.

1 thought on “Caving and Writer’s Block

  1. Cave away! I love reading your posts and it’s fun, as a dedicated reader, to never know what’s up your sleeve in terms of writing topics. I think it’s way cool that WordPress encourages its writers with ideas. Whatever gets you to write (as long as it’s not hypergraphia) is a great thing in my book! 😉

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