The science behind Writer’s Block


It happens. Your inspiration doesn’t want to work for you anymore. This time scientists decided to perform an inspiration autopsy to determine the cause of its misbehavior.

We used to think that our inspiration is a miracle that occurs at the most magical moments of our life. However, the scientists claim that the muse is not a mythical woman in a see-through dress that usually comes at night. Instead, it’s just a chemical reaction with a set of hormones in your brain.

The muse, in other words, is merely a matter of making the right brain connections.

What hormones and chemicals are responsible for this exalted state of mind? And can this state be triggered by any other means?

The study shows that when we realize that we need/should/must write something, the brain perceives it as a signal of danger and makes your body release stress hormones.

That triggers so called fight-or-flight response that has been formed for millions of years by human evolution. This mechanism developed to enable us to run as fast as we can from a saber tooth tiger (or a grizzly bear in The Revenant).

Imagine that you are walking in a forest, minding your own business, and all of a sudden you spot a giant bear. What do you feel? Want to write something on your blog?

The unstoppable drive to write (or produce in other media), called hypergraphia, can be triggered by temporal lobe epilepsy, mania, and other mood disorders. Dostoevsky and van Gogh are examples. The late Norman Geschwind, a Harvard expert on hypergraphia, referred to such talents as a valuable result from a brain defect.

That’s why ways of fighting depression and anxiety are very similar to ways of dealing with writer’s block. Walking, meditation, workout, and listening to music are not only my typical daily schedule but also effective methods for overcoming writer’s block.


24 thoughts on “The science behind Writer’s Block

  1. Oh, Marta! I’m devastated. The mythical woman in the see-through dress has inspired me to write for years and to find out I should have pursued her with something other than pen and paper is proof of my own mental defect. This was informative and interesting how the process of inspiration and creativity comes about. If I ever get over my many personality defects, I probably won’t be able to write a single sentence of creative prose unless a large toothy reptile clamps down on my posterior protuberance. Now that would inspire me to take action. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The other day I saw a Ted talk by Tim Harford who said that in order to make your work even more creative and robust, you should “embrace the mess”. For example, you can try to play an unplayable piano to create the best song in your life or make a drummer play the piano and a pianist play the guitar in your band. So, you can imagine yourself being chased by the large toothy reptile that is wearing the see-through dress. I think that image may inspire one to generate ideas better and faster =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • OMG, LOL! It worked. You and Tim are genius. I thought about the large toothy reptile in a see-through dress and a new Return of Dragons story popped into my head. Now, I don’t have to worry what I will write next. Thank you Marta! 🤓🐉

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s