The Addiction of Writing

There are plenty of things to get addicted to in life. Some, like drugs, alcohol, and adrenaline, can be dangerous. Some, like shoes and cars, can be expensive. Some, like love, can only be answered with the help of another.

My addiction to writing is a bad one, but I think that makes it good. The addiction I would compare it to most is the addiction to exercise. If I don’t get up first thing in the morning and write, it doesn’t get done. Then I miss it for the whole day, wishing I’d done it, wondering why I didn’t, angry at the circumstances (often self-induced) that kept me from it. It’s not that I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on an idea and never have it again, because I don’t believe that’s the way it works. All good ideas come into the story in their time and place. It’s that, when I look back at the mass of pages I have produced in my life, I love them all. I am proud of them all. I can never have too many of them. They contain my innermost thoughts and feelings. They contain my creativity. They are what I have created and built in this life, rather than consumed.

The flip side of my addiction is that it is so easy to feed. Not that it seems that way. It is amazing the excuses I will come up with for not doing it. It’s so much easier to turn on Sportscenter, or open up a news page on the computer. Of course there are days when the car needs to go the shop, or when some other early morning business takes precedence over mine. On those days, I invariably say I will get to my writing later, and invariably, the day ends without me doing so.

All I have to do is sit down at the keyboard, open up my story, and start looking at it. The ideas will begin to flow. I will see a correction that’s needed here, or have an idea for there. It’s not difficult. (Even as I say that, I remember days that writing has physically exhausted me, and days that I have sat staring at the page while my brain seems to struggle beneath a layer of mud.) As long as I write, even a single word, the addiction is answered, and the day’s work is done. It doesn’t matter what else happens or doesn’t happen. That’s a good feeling, to have my raison d’être answered by nine o’clock in the morning.

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