“I sit down religiously every morning. In the course of a working day of eight hours, I write three sentences, which I erase before leaving the table in despair. The effort I put out should give birth to Masterpieces as big as mountains, and it brings forth a ridiculous mouse now and then.”
That is a quote by novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924, “Heart of Darkness” and other acclaimed works), from an essay by Stephanie Stone Horton.
In her 2010 paper, Horton (at the time a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Georgia State University) writes:
“Composition research has largely ignored the affective disorders – depression and bipolar disorder – and their influence on student writing. This is remarkable, as depression abounds in the college population. In a 2008 study of 26,685 undergraduates, nearly 25 percent reported depressive symptoms affecting academic performance.
“Yet, these writers remain marginalized by our profession. Depression can cause severe writing blocks; depressed brains show a pronounced slowing of frontal and temporal lobe activity. Mania can spark intense creativity, but also can escalate to a functional breakdown.”