Wednesday, May 12, 2010


In Max Hastings' excellent book The Korean War there's an extended discussion of the factors that caused captured soldiers to survive or perish while they lived in deplorable conditions in Korean prison camps.

Every Korean War POW became severely ill, from the cold, from dysentery, from malnutrition, or from some combination thereof. And yet a surprising number of soldiers died from less serious illnesses that shouldn't have been life-threatening.

Eventually, the POWs named their own new disease: give-up-itis. Once a soldier "gave up" in the camps it was only a matter of days or weeks before he perished.

Writers suffer from give-up-itis too, although with less grave consequences. We leave projects undone. We start blogs and don't sustain them. We quit work on that screenplay or novel we always dreamed we'd write before we die.

Why? What is the point of giving up?

This disease is curable. Don't give in to it. Keep writing.