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UnDisciplined: The muses help those who help themselves

If you've ever had writer's block – especially if you're someone whose work depends on words in one way or another – then you know how desperate that experience can be. What you might not realize is that you're in very good company. Because writers have been going through this for a long time.

Joyce Kinkead is a professor of English at Utah State University, and the author of A Writing Studies Primer, which was the basis for widely shared piece she wrote last year for The Conversation about the 5000 year history of writer's block.

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>