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Old 08-24-2013, 04:55 PM   #1
kennyc
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Writing is a drug. Embrace it!

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Writing is a drug. Embrace it!
- Kenny A. Chaffin

Maybe my new motto, eh. Most every writer has ‘resistance’ but I think part of my personal ‘resistance’ is fear of addiction based on my own personal past issues with drugs and other addictions.

I just heard an interview with Thomas Keneally on NPR he is the author of Shindler’s Ark basis of the movie Shindler’s List who has a new novel out “The Daughters of Mars”
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/20/213468...-the-great-war

The audio here in a few hours they say: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/24/214846...ghters-of-mars


Interesting comments from him at the end of the interview about what “Shindler’s” did for him. Basically he said it helped the publishers to sell his books and that yes he has always written to earn a living but the reason he writes is the ‘rush’ that he gets when he gets a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, etc right. That is the reason to write.

From the interview:

“On the effect of Schindler's List
"Well, it gave a new visibility to my work, and I think it helped, the fact that publishers can have that as a banner ... to put on the cover of my books is a great help. When people used to thank me for writing Schindler's List, I would be abashed, because I'd say to them, but I did it for the normal novelistic reasons, the normal professional writer reasons: I wanted to make a living. Above all, of course, when you fall in love with a story, you don't write it for reward, but you sometimes, irrationally, get rewards. And I used to say to them, look, I've been rewarded for writing this, and I'm therefore astonished that, coming from such venal origins, my endeavors could produce in your family this or that effect."


Looks like a good book – The Daughters of Mars – too!
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Old 08-24-2013, 05:44 PM   #2
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Totally understand where you are coming from with the addiction thing. For me, I enter a state of semi-hypnosis where I visualise the scene and eavesdrop on what the characters are saying. Meditation if you like. Unlike other addictions writing isn't dangerous to your health...oh wait...my back gets quite bad if I sit still for too long...
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Old 08-24-2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Thanks Grace. I don't know if you've read "The War of Art" Steven Pressfield talks of resistance and how it all comes from inside the writer. I think there were three things that finally came together in my head to open this door.....as I know I've heard the same stuff many times...The trigger of course was 1) this NPR Interview, but it was also that I'd just re-read 2) The War of Art yesterday and have been 3) working on a number of short pieces and poetry several of which have to do with drugs, addictions, etc.

[ and here is a Stephen King interview where he speaks of Writing as self-hypnosis ]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ELlianFnL0

Last edited by kennyc; 08-25-2013 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:18 AM   #4
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I like how Stephen King put it in his book, "I write because I can't not write."
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:25 AM   #5
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Yes many writers say that. What I'm saying is a bit different though. It's more like being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and knowing (or drilling it in to yourself) that even one drink will kill you. It's a self-resistance to doing the work, doing the writing, the fear of addiction.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
Yes many writers say that. What I'm saying is a bit different though. It's more like being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and knowing (or drilling it in to yourself) that even one drink will kill you. It's a self-resistance to doing the work, doing the writing, the fear of addiction.
I guess I do not follow, why would you resist doing the work?
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:30 AM   #7
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That's the point. I don't know if you've ever had to overcome addiction but that is what I'm saying. The rigid mindset required, the fear of being consumed by whatever is causing the addiction is why it must be avoided/resisted/prevented at all costs. I know through multiple experiences in my life that I have an addictive personality (still fighting this internet addiction ) and virtually anything can become an all-consuming activity. What I'm saying is that I believe I have been subconsciously and to some extent consciously holding back because of this fear of being consumed/destroyed by it.

Last edited by kennyc; 08-25-2013 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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I do not have an additive personality (which is of course why I am posting on the internet at 6am on a Sunday, because I am definitely NOT addicted. ). I am still not following....

If you decided at some point you wanted to be a writing and then you start writing and enjoy it... why would you resist taking that path in life? I am probably just being slow today. It is Sunday after all.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:50 AM   #9
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Because an addiction can be all-consuming, it can destroy you/your life so you must fight it.

Here's the wiki link on addictive personality: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addictive_personality

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Old 08-25-2013, 10:06 AM   #10
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Alcohol, gambling, hard drugs, they are all destructive in nature. Writing and other creative activities are, in constrast, productive. Certainly, you could get so absorbed that you neglect necessary obligations (or to eat and wash), but any hobby or occupation contains a seed of that danger.

Then again, I don't get those adrenaline or endorphine rushes when writing. There are feelings of relief and satisfaction, but nothing yet that I would call primal or very raw. Which is a shame. I think I'd like that!

Alcohol, before I freed myself from it, was initially a way to deal with anxiety. Writing, on the other hand, is a source of anxiety, so for me, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The escapist element is something they may share, though.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mivo View Post
Alcohol, gambling, hard drugs, they are all destructive in nature. Writing and other creative activities are, in constrast, productive. Certainly, you could get so absorbed that you neglect necessary obligations (or to eat and wash), but any hobby or occupation contains a seed of that danger.

Then again, I don't get those adrenaline or endorphine rushes when writing. There are feelings of relief and satisfaction, but nothing yet that I would call primal or very raw. Which is a shame. I think I'd like that!

....
Anything can be addictive and self-destructive when taken to extremes and an addictive personality is prone to this in almost any endeavor.

The "Rush" is exactly the idea that came across to me from the NPR interview and what triggered this thing in my mind. I have absolutely gotten a rush and a high at time when completing or reading a piece or part or whole of my writing.

Thanks.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #12
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I think my "problem" may be that when I write, I tend to start out in a de-pressed state, at -50 on the emometer. When I finish a piece, or achieve a goal, it increases to zero, which is a normal, relaxed-happy state. Is your initial value a zero?

Endorphin and adrenaline rushes can definitely cause addiction or addiction-like experiences. But, and this is just a personal observation that may not be generally applicable, after I defeated the alcohol (in a cold turkey process that was nothing short of traumatic, though not without insights that I'm grateful for, at least in retrospect), I spent the next two or three years being overly worried about potential replacement drugs (and they did exist: caffeine, sugar, World of Warcraft, all at different stages). Everything seemed dangerous and potentially addictive, and I didn't trust myself. There was a lot of insecurity and self-doubt.

This is probably normal, especially if the previous drug experience cut deeply, but the danger is that the fear prevents you from living and enjoying life. I think an important qualifier with addictions is the motivation, the reason why you do something. I didn't drink alcohol because it tasted well or because it gave me a sense of accomplishment, but for the physical effects. Are you writing for the sake of writing, for the fun of it, because you must, or are you doing it solely for the rush? If it's the latter, then it could be a drug. But you're allowed to feel good about finishing something, about having successfully wrestled the beast. Feeling well is the natural state.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
I like how Stephen King put it in his book, "I write because I can't not write."
I think that puts it well.

I see writing as an obsession rather than as an addiction. I can't give a succinct definition of the differences between obsession, compulsion and addiction, but I think writing fits one or both of the first two rather than the latter.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:14 PM   #14
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I think obsession is the best way to characterize writing. My first book was a joy to me. Not that I just sat down and kicked it out. I didn't. It took forever for me to finish it. But I wanted it. I needed it. I even experienced a small level of undeserved success with it. But the next book has been a nightmare. I finally finished it. And, worse yet, I can't quit now. Even though I probably should. Obsession, addiction, they're closely aligned, aren't they? But in my case, if I weren't writing, I'd just be sitting here watching my grass grow. Ugh.
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
Yes many writers say that. What I'm saying is a bit different though. It's more like being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and knowing (or drilling it in to yourself) that even one drink will kill you. It's a self-resistance to doing the work, doing the writing, the fear of addiction.
If memory serves Mr. King has had to deal with his own share of demons in the form of addiction to drugs and alcohol as well.
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