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? 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 life 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? 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?