This may (or may not) be a real word and I know it because I found it on the internet. Since I work in a library, I got fancy and looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. No go. It wasn’t in the online edition or the massive print volumes we have, either. Still , Merriam Webster online lists this as a word, with either the word itself or just the sentence containing it (it’s hard to tell) submitted by Anonymous on November 2, 2005:
xeroflulogitis: (noun) : When translated literally from Greek/Latin roots, this word means ” the condition of a dry flow of words”. Therefore, this describes that often cliched phrase of being “lost for words” or ” the lack of word-flow”.
The fact that it may not be a recognized word doesn’t really matter, in part because I make up words all the time (this is why my spouse won’t play Scrabble with me) and also because finding words starting with x is, as expected, hard.
Plus I’m tickled by the definition – the condition of being at a loss for words. It seemed appropriate for my A to Z Challenge theme: the things that support my writing. I haven’t talked much about writer’s block on the blog. I’ve certainly had times when the words don’t flow. Usually those times arise when specific conditions are in place. When I’m smart and paying attention, I notice the conditions and try to adjust to them as necessary.
Here are a few of the big conditions that lead to my occasional xeroflulogitis:
- Lack of sleep – This is the main cause of creative blocks for me. It’s also the easiest to fix (well, easier than the others, at least). If I’m not well-rested, my creativity suffers.
- Sensory overload – This relates to lack of sleep and perhaps is a condition best known to introverts. When I have days where I’m running around – even when those days aren’t filled with crises – I come home mentally blitzed. My mind is too overwhelmed to quiet down and focus on writing.
- Doubts – The hardest one to fix. There are times when I sit down to write and am beset by all those crazy voices telling me this is stupid and a waste of time. That I’m deluding myself to think I can make this work, that I’ll never produce anything worth reading.
To address these conditions, I pay attention. If I need sleep, I try to get to bed earlier (easier said than done – I am posting this at 11:15pm, after all). When I’m overwhelmed, I shut down social media, turn off the TV and read a book. Or sometimes I lay on the couch (if it’s winter) or front porch (if it’s not) and stare into the distance. And when I am beset by doubt, I remind myself that in the end, the bad things I say about myself aren’t true. They’re nothing more than a story.