Fighting it: why not writing makes no sense

Not everybody will share my view that for a writer, writing is not a hobby, it is almost an addiction; a compulsion that can drive us to entertain inappropriate and often criminal fantasies. I very much doubt the condition will ever be officially recognised, and I’m pretty certain there will never be any NHS funding for treatment (other than to advise us to keep doing it). But still, I would argue my case that writing can be addictive. If you can go with me on this for a moment you might understand why, given writing’s addictive qualities, I am constantly bemused by the fact that every writer I know (including myself) is so fantastically talented at avoiding doing it. Why do we find a million and one reasons not to write? Focused on voice When writers are writing, our social lives suffer. Many of us grow pale and sickly. All too often, our finances are strained beyond breaking point as we strive to feed our insatiable habit. When we’re really going for it, some of us forget to wash or dress for days; why bother when the only people we intend communicating with are figments of our own imagination and unlikely to notice? We spend too much time locked away from the world, inhabiting our own weird dreamlands, tripping through the realms of our imaginations, which are every bit as real to us as that other world huffing and puffing away outside our window. And yet, we find a million and more excuses not to write.

When writers aren’t writing, we go about our everyday liTanya 167fe pretending all is well, but look closer and you will see we are restless, twitchy. As time goes on we may grow irritable, morose, frustrated, and eventually depressed. If only a perfectly-plotted, startlingly original idea would plop fully formed into our lap. If only we could find that idyllic haven, our ideal writing space, in which to meet our muse. If only we could go on a writing retreat. If only we had that yearned-for pocket of free time when life would just get the hell out of our way and let us WORK… Then our words of genius would spill forth and stun the world with their utter brilliance.

And when we forget about all this nonsense and just put our butt in a chair and write? Working hard Even on a bad writing day, when the words come hard and are clunky and crass, and our characters are stiff and dull as breeze blocks, the truth is, it’s still a buzz. A hit. And it’s not even, in and of itself, bad for our health. So how does not doing it make any sense? Why do we resist the very thing we are craving? No wonder all my friends think us writers are a bit weird.

How about you? Do you resist the writing urge and if so, what do you do about it? Does a writing retreat help? Or joining a writing group? Or do you just have a really harsh word with yourself?

6 Replies to “Fighting it: why not writing makes no sense”

  1. So true about writing being an addiction. I started a Ponytail diary in the 6th grade, then kept writing without missing a day for the next 22 years! Maybe because I was lonely – no siblings. Anyway, now that I’m retired, I am continually writing up narratives on my life’s events and also going through my old diaries, doing narratives mainly on the trips I’ve taken. I have a portfolio listing of all of my writing projects. Hope to publish someday in a big way but don’t know where to begin. Have gotten my writings into smaller publications, however.

  2. Christine, that is such a typical journey for so many writers I know. It’s fantastic that you have placed your writings with smaller publications and that you are writing more than ever. There is a craft to be learned, and now sounds like a great time for you to think about joining a writing class or group, or going on a residential course. Are you based in the States? If so, there are many residential courses on offer, similar to our one here in the UK in March, which could offer you a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the craft. Most importantly, keep on writing.

    1. Thanks so much, Kath. I live in Syracuse, New York. I’m a former French teacher and have been involved in the French language now for 55 years. Also, I’ve lived in France. So, I have TWO languages going on all the time in my life! Ha! (plus I’m familiar with other Romance languages and Polish, which is my ethnic heritage).

      Yes, I need to find a writing group and there are many here in Central New York. It’s just a matter of finding the time to get involved. Right now, I don’t consider myself really creative because my writings are non-fiction but my speciality is combining facts with emotions and how I feel about those facts. When I write a trip narrative, I combine my personal experiences and feelings about the trip with historical information pertaining to the places I have visited. Bonne chance to all of us!

      1. I’m not sure why you feel you are not ‘creative’ when everything you have just described says that you very much are. It sounds like you are writing in the genre known as creative non-fiction, which is called that with good reason.

        I see creative writing as being creative in two senses.

        One, you create (or invent) stories and characters. When you are writing non-fiction, you probably aren’t doing this part (or not totally anyway), but your characters, actual or not, will need to live and breathe on the page, and will need to ‘engage’.

        Two, you create interesting and engaging ways to communicate those stories to your reader, and you certainly sound like you are doing this.

        The craft of writing is all about learning how to communicate your stories well, and is every bit as enjoyable and crucial a part of the creative writing process as making stuff up.

        Good luck with finding the right group. It won’t matter if it is populated by novelists, short story writers or travel writers. The skills required will be pretty well the same, and the support you can offer each other is invaluable. If it helps at some point now or in the future, I do run an online writing course which sets out to teach the fundamentals of writing well. You can check it out at And I’m betting New York has loads of great creative writing classes running for adults. As you say, bonne chance.

        1. Oh, you’re so right, Kath. Writing good non-fiction takes creativity, too. I will look into that website. Merci!

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