ZDavid: this thread has given me a lot to think about. My first encounter with writer's block came when I tried to write an account of a very bad wartime experience. I'd always been able to crank out thousands of words at a sitting when I had a hot topic in mind. In this case, however, I hit a total wall -- even after many attempts I failed to get as much as a single word on paper. I'm thinking of trying again, with a vow to myself that it will be entirely private, "for my eyes only".