Daily Archives: August 8, 2007

Another form of neurological variance, apparently.


Someone just asked me privately, how it is that I manage to write so much.

For anyone’s reference, my main problem is how not to write. I have written compulsively ever since I was able to manage a keyboard without going into meltdowns. It hasn’t mattered whether what I wrote made sense or not, had anything to do with what I was thinking or not, or even whether the writing was any good, I just had to write. I’ve probably written enough to fill volumes, although most of it I’ve deleted or thrown away over the years and a large chunk of it is barely intelligible. Similarly with a lot of other creative activities, such as music, dancing, painting, drawing, etc. It’s not just that writing is a primary form of communication for me, either. I did this when I could speak, too. And I did it even when I wasn’t writing anything I was thinking. I’d just write random words or sentences if nothing else came to mind. Or copy entire pages out of books by hand. I do it when I am not intending anyone to see it. It has nothing to do with people seeing it, in fact. It just happens.

And in trying to explain that to someone, I came across the following article: The Brains Behind Writer’s Block, about hypergraphia, which is, surprise, writing compulsively (and also pertains to other creative acts as well), just as I’ve described above. It’s linked to differences in the temporal lobes. (I have temporal lobe seizures and a brain scan showed very high activity in parts of my temporal lobes compared to typical brains.) Looks like another one of those parts of neurological variance that gets medicalized as a disease but seems to be useful (if sometimes aggravating) in practical terms.

It also makes me ticked off in yet another new way, that when my brain scan showed unusual patterns of activity (both inside and outside the temporal lobes), the first thing the doctor who performed the scans wanted to do was find some combination of drugs that would magically make my brain scan show more standard activity patterns (something that I doubt was possible, but he managed to get me prescribed a combination of drugs that zombified me in his attempts to do this). I wonder when people will get it that non-standard brains show non-standard activity and that trying to force them into a standard activity pattern will only mess things up, it’s like trying to get a cat to wag her tail and bark, even if you could you don’t have a dog, you have a confusing and confused cat. This is my normal.

A quote from Alice Flaherty’s book on the subject, The Midnight Disease, (which I now need to get a copy of — she’s a neurologist who ended up with hypergraphia for some reason) says:

The sight of a computer keyboard or a blank page gave me the same rush that drug addicts get from seeing their freebasing paraphernalia.

Yes, exactly. My brother once said (looking around my house) he’d never seen so many things with keyboards on them in one spot before. There’s a reason for that, but at least it’s not a particularly harmful addiction (unless you count tendonitis). And I’m pleased that she notices so clearly that it’s the act of writing that’s the addictive part, not necessarily any intent beyond that. It’s very personal, and would take place even if I were stranded on a desert island with a keyboard-containing device of some sort. (And as friends will attest, minus a keyboard, I often start touch-typing in the air.)

So, yeah, anyone wondering why I write so much should actually be asking how I manage to write so little, if anything. My main trouble isn’t getting myself to write, it’s that I can’t not write, even if I’m coming up with the wrong words when I do it. And I have the massive stashes of random textfiles and printouts to prove it. I seem to have made it work for me, though, and it seems to be a decent trait for a prolific blogger, as long as I keep a handle on the “make this actually communicative” bit. ;-)