“But consider the case of a man sitting down to write something genuinely original–to pump an orderly flow of ideas out of the turbid pool of his impressions, feelings, vague thoughts, dimly sensed instincts. He works in a room alone. Every jangle of the telephone cuts him like a knife; every entrance of a visitor blows him up. Solitary, lonely, tired of himself, wrought up to an abnormal sensitiveness, he wrestles abominably with intolerable complexities–shoadowy notions that refuse to reveal themselves clearly, doubts that torture, hesitations that damn. His every physical sensation is enormously magnified. A cold in the head rides him like a witch. A split fingernail hurts worse than a paparotomy. The smart of a too-close shave burns like a prairie-fire. A typewriter that bucks is worse than a band of music. The far-away wail of a child is the howling of a fiend. A rattling radiator is a battery of artillery.
“Nothing could be worse than this agony. A few hours of it and even the strongest man is thoroughly tired out. Days upon days of it, and he is ready for the doctor. The layman whose writing is confined to a few dozen letters a day can have no conceptions of the hard work done by such a writer. Worse, he must plod his way through many days when writing is impossible altogether–days of doldrums, of dead centers, of utter mental collapse. These days have a happy habit of coming precisely when they are most inconvenient–when a book has been promised and the publisher is snorting for it. They are days of unmitigated horror. The writer labors like a galley-slave, and accomplishes absolutely nothing. A week of such effort and he is a wreck. It is in the last ghastly hours of such weeks that writers throw their children out of sixth-story windows and cut off the heads of their wives.”
H.L. Mencken, Minority Report