Writing is a pretty recent development in the history of our species. It has taken a long time to get it established, and even in the 21st century, much of the world is illiterate. It’s something of a miracle if you think about it, because writing wasn’t required for our survival for thousands of years. It seems essential now, however, and we spend much of our formative years learning the many complex mental and physical routines involved in producing the written word. Writing demands a lot from our brains, and like any demanding work, we might resist it at times. In addition, writing invites reactions and judgments from the world. We learn plenty about this in school, and the wrong reactions at the wrong times can cripple the impulse to write. Our health, character, relationships, socioeconomic status, education, stress level and emotional state are all elements that impinge on our writing, and any one of these factors can create work stoppages or slowdowns. Writing is one of the higher-order activities we can engage in, and there’s lots of ways it can break down.