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Procrasination, Stimulants, and the Creative Process

Neuroscience of Writing




Why do we, as writers, procrastinate so damn much? Why do so many of us depend on caffeine, cigarettes, and other stimulants? And why are alcohol and other mind-altering drugs so often used as creative crutches? These questions don’t have definitive answers, but a look at the neurological element can give us some insights into some of these less-than-ideal patterns.

Let’s take each of these items in turn.

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Write-Brained: The Source of Writer’s Block

Neuroscience of Writing




Some contend that writer’s block isn’t “real.” Often, I’m sure these people intend to say that writer’s block is self-imposed or all in your head. Both of these things are true, but that doesn’t mean that writer’s block is in any way less actual or problematic. In this entry, we’ll explore where writer’s block happens in the brain so we can develop strategies for combating it.

In previous entries, we explored two key ideas that are relevant here. First, that creative writing takes place in one’s neo-mammalian brain. And second, that the creative element of the process is distinct from the analytical process. To begin our discussion of where writer’s block comes from, allow me to introduce a third key idea: It is possible to get “locked out” of our neo-mammalian brain and our lateral thinking process.

To start our discussion, I will discuss how each of these “lock outs” can happen.

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A Little S&M – A Figurative Language Quiz

Not ready yet? Go back to the hub page.
Want to step back to the previous entry in the series? Go to What Metaphors Aren’t


In today’s exercise, you will practice what you’ve learned about the finer points of figurative language by taking a simple (and occasionally sexy) quiz. By the end, you should feel comfortable differentiating metaphors from other types of figurative language, including simile, hyperbole, literal descriptions, and euphemisms.

The S and M (+E,H, and L) Quiz

In this section you will receive a single description followed by several different sets of details on what this description may be referring to. In each case, you will identify what the description would be in that situation (with the options being metaphor, simile, euphemism, hyperbole, and literal description).

She tied me up.

1. If this is referring to a situation where the she has made you sufficiently busy that you were unable to leave, this would be a:

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Simile, Euphemism, and Hyperbole: What Metaphors Aren’t

Not ready yet? Go back to basics.
Want to step back to the previous entry in the series? Go to The Literally Game.


The metaphor is a valuable tool for all kinds of writers in all genres. However, before we go on to discuss the possible uses of metaphor, we should take a moment to clear up a few potential misconceptions. Here are some things a metaphor isn’t.

A Metaphor Is Like a Simile.

XKCD Metaphors and Similes
Image courtesy of XKCD

This one’s fairly simple. A metaphor does not use “like” or “as” to make a comparison. If those words are used, the description is a simile. Except for that slight difference, metaphors and similes are identical. So, for example, if her hair is like spun gold, that’s a simile. If her hair was spun gold, that’s a metaphor.

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