Writer’s Block is Universal

Sheldon Levine at Sysomos used his company’s social media analytics platform to see how often people mention writer’s block online, and who is mentioning it. He got some interesting results, including:

Of the 100 days I looked at, 54.7% of all the social mentions of writers block that I found came from the United States. People in China seemed to suffer from writers block the second most, but they only accounted for 17.9% of the conversation. Something interesting to point out is that the other countries that had a significant amount of chatter about writers block were also “Westernized” countries like the UK (8.5%), Canada (3.8%) and Australia (3.5%).

He also found women mentioning it more than men:

Pretty fascinating stuff, but even he admits this is nowhere like science. The high proportion of blocked writers in western countries may reflect that people in those countries feel free-er to write. (As opposed to those at risk for jail or worse.) Also, men still tend to seek out help for emotional problems less often than women, and that may account for the gender disparity.

In any case, rest assured that if you’re struggling with a block you’ve got plenty of company. Also rest assured that it’s the best people who suffer from writer’s block: those who care not just about their work, but those around them, society at large, and the planet. Selfish, exploitative, uncaring people tend not to get blocked: they just get the job done, not caring who they stomp on in the process. But it’s much harder to be productive and succeed if you’re trying to do it fairly and honorably, while meeting your more general obligations and responsibilities. So never feel bad about your block: work to eliminate it, but until you do recognize that it’s a symptom of the wonderful, caring, sensitive person you are.

Also, I wonder if the high number of hits in China reflects a preponderance of Tiger Momism.

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