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The Midnight Disease
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Why is it that some writers struggle for months to come up with the perfect sentence or phrase, while others, hunched over a notepad or keyboard deep into the night, seem unable to stop writing? In The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain (Houghton Mifflin, January), neurologist Alice W. Flaherty explores the hows and whys of writing, revealing the science behind hypergraphia -- the overwhelming urge to write -- and its dreaded opposite, writer's block. The result is an innovative contribution to our understanding of creative drive, one that throws new light on the work of some of our greatest writers. A neurologist whose work puts her at the forefront of brain science, Flaherty herself suffered from hypergraphia after the loss of her prematurely born twins. Her unique perspective as both doctor and patient helps her make important connections between pain and the drive to communicate and between mood disorders and the creative muse. Deftly guiding readers through the inner workings of the human brain, Flaherty sheds new light on popular notions of the origins of creativity, giving us a new understanding of the role of the temporal lobes and the limbic system. She challenges the standard idea that one side of the brain controls creative function, and explains the biology behind a visit from the muse. Flaherty writes compellingly of her bout with manic hypergraphia, when "the sight of a computer keyboard or a blank page gave me the same rush that drug addicts get from seeing their freebasing paraphernalia." Dissecting the role of emotion in writing and the ways in which brain-body and mood disorders can lead to prodigious -- or meager -- creative output, Flaherty uses examples from her own life and the lives of writers from Kafka to Anne Lamott, from Sylvia Plath to Stephen King: * Fyodor Dostoevsky, the author of nineteen novels and novellas and voluminous notebooks, diaries, and letters, suffere
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