Is graphorrhea a type of writer’s block?

Michael Douglas has a messy case of graphorrhea in the movie Wonder Boys

Graphorrea (extreme wordiness in writing) would appear to be the antithesis of the constipation known as writer’s block. It’s not, however, if the geyser of words spewing forth does not move you closer toward the completion of your project. You can hide out in graphorrea and convince even yourself that you are doing your job as a writer.

There is a good scene in Wonder Boys when a college student, Katie Holmes, confronts her professor, Michael Douglas, about the excessive wordiness and lack of editorial decision making in his novel in progress. Michael has been in a tailspin after the resounding success of his first novel, and the crippling anxiety he feels about trying to write a worthy second book is expressed by a host of self-sabotaging behaviors and graphorrea.

He simply can’t stop writing or make the decisions required toedit out unnecessary passages. The result is an monstrous manuscript that grows and grows without getting him closer to completion. Michael avoids his impatient publisher (Robert Downey Jr) out of shame, and also smokes a lot of pot, has fainting spells, cheats on his wife, and shoots the department chair’s dog, as he stumbles his way to eventual redemption, love and the completion of his book.

If you can’t decide how to edit your draft, it helps to ask for assistance from people whose judgment you trust to help you make decisions. When nervousness and self-doubt assault your mind, you lose your center, and even minor decisions feel excruciatingly difficult. Don’t hide out in shame – ask for help. A breeze of sanity wafting in from someone outside your neurotic spiral is useful to remind you to relax,trust yourself and stop writing so much.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Famous writers, The Blocked Writer's Book of the Dead, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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