Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.


It’s poorly appreciated, but writing is an occupation which has hazards. Most writers, at one time or another, will suffer from at least one of the following diseases, conditions or injuries. Most are treatable and with appropriate therapy writers can look forward to living relatively full and normal lives.Writers need help, sometimes.

Adjectivitis: condition especially pronounced at first draft, where adjectives spawn, multiply and run rampant through one’s writing.

Criticosis: a type of writing paralysis caused by overly active and insistent self-criticism.

Swelled Head Syndrome: condition that comes from reading too many glowing reviews. Rare.

Commadosis: An proliferation of commas so virile that they infect and convert all other punctuation.

Over Capitalisation: particularly common in Fantasy writing, where everything is made strangely Portentous by Splashing Capital Letters around Willy-Nilly.

Adverbia: the helpless need to add adverbs to every verb, relentlessly, inexorably, unstoppably.

The Grumps: envy stemming from the success of other writers. Common.

My Own Myopia: a form of selective blindness where a writer cannot see his or her own poor writing.

Forehead Haematoma: bruising to the brow, resulting from banging one’s head on the desk because of recalcitrant scenes, characters, plot developments etc.

Weighty Word Syndrome: a condition where every single word seems to weigh hundreds of kilos and requires commensurate effort to put in place. See ‘Immense Sentence Disorder’.

Hyperplotting: a deep-seated compulsion to construct narratives that rely on the regular use of the word ‘suddenly’.

Complications Complex: a form of writer delusion where ‘Complicatedness’ is mistaken for ‘Complexity’.

Startled Narrative Disorder: a propensity to organise a story via liberal use of the word ‘suddenly’.

Hyper-elastic Temporal Insensibility: An acquired condition where the time between ‘now’ and ‘that deadline’ subjectively stretches so that weeks feel like years, decades or periods of time usually devoted to delineating geologic eras.

Deadline Whiplash: An acute neck injury caused when a writer realises that that far-off deadline is actually, really, unmovably next Tuesday.

Naturally, this list is not exhaustive. Writers are more than capable of inventing new conditions at the drop of a hat. It is only through regular donations to writing-related medical research that we can hope to ameliorate the effects of Writing Diseases.

Give so that they may write.


  • Comment by Sally — September 15, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    Very accurate list, but you missed one: poverty.

  • Comment by michael — September 15, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    Sally, you’re correct. Writing Induced Poverty – known as ‘Hip Pocket Shrinkage’ in medical circles – is reaching epidemic proportions among writers. Treatment – known as ‘Grants’ – is erratic and poorly understood. Technology promises to remedy this alarming condition, but evidence for this is depressingly scarce.

  • Comment by Joanne Sandhu — September 15, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    Ha! Great post, Michael. I’m suffering from a few of those at the moment, Forehead Haematoma being most prominent, followed closely by Weighty Word Syndrome. My solution is to go and make another cup of tea.

  • Comment by Wayne Densley — September 15, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    Love this. Looked down the list and got rather sweaty as I realised how many of them applied. Adverbia sits at the top of the list. Desperately trying to keep this post short…

  • Comment by Kathryn — September 16, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    This list is brilliant. I suffer from a few of them, although you forgot tennis elbow also known as writer’s elbow (not really but is sounds better) – caused by intense writing for long periods.

  • Comment by Jane — September 18, 2011 @ 5:50 am

    Oh dear. I’ve just read a book with a severe overdose of Over Capitalisation! Sadly, it also featured an overdose of Conjunctionitis – that irritating habit of starting every other sentence with “and” for no reason at all. And you know what I mean. Still, I shouldn’t be too critical – I’ve probably got My Own Myopia:)

  • Comment by Eli — September 20, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    It is really sad how many of these apply to me and my writer buddies…
    Square Eye Disorder – the headaches and hazy eyesight induced by staring at a blank piece of paper, screen or blinking cursor for long periods of time.

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