Confessions of a Writaholic

A week or so ago, I wrote myself a note containing a single word: writaholic. At the time, I had been reflecting on how obsessed I’ve become about writing. The truth of the matter is that I could write every day for most of the day and enjoy almost every minute of it. Sometimes, in fact, I feel the words churning inside me, clamouring for release.

While out walking, I craft sentences to describe something I’ve seen. While driving I plot some twist or turn in my stories. While washing the dishes or gardening or standing in the shower, I think of changes required to further polish a chapter. When I’m not thinking or working directly on writing, I’m devising a new blog post or a way to gain further insights from the historical fiction survey I’ve recently completed or I’m musing on how to connect with others in the field of historical fiction or in the more general field of publishing. And on and on it goes.

I haven’t been writing that long – about four years now – and I wonder if it will always be this way or whether I will eventually settle into a less compulsive pattern. If you have any wisdom to share, I would be grateful.

Note: the photo was taken in Japan. The tiny twists of paper represent people’s wishes for good fortune.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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8 Responses

  1. Ernest Hemingway said, “‎Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.” I’d have to agree with him, and after reading your post, I’d say this fits you, too. 🙂

    I am in love with writing – though sometimes I go for days without writing. It didn’t used to be this way. I started writing when I was about 11 or 12 years old, and I set up shop downstairs in our newly-finished basement with its cinder block walls and concrete floors. I used an old desk salvaged from my father’s country schoolhouse and put my mother’s black and gray manual typewriter on it. My desk was my bright yellow plastic table that had gone through countless tea parties and other assorted playtimes as part of my younger years. I used a single sheet of lined notebook paper to track my progress and I hung it on the wall with some gummy tack.

    I wrote with bliss during those early years and it’s probably because I didn’t allow fear to creep in. I had a child’s vision of what it was to be a writer. I vowed to eschew college, vowed to become a published novelist in high school, and vowed to never lose that joy.

    Well, as you can imagine, I went to college, earning two degrees (in history, not English or creative writing). I did not publish a novel in high school, but I was the editor and assistant editor of my high school newspaper and everyone knew I wrote fiction. I lose the joy of writing several times a year, and that’s because, after writing four novels, I FORGET that I am doing what I LOVE.

    So all of this is to say that I envy you. In a good way. Keep that joy. Keep that breathless sense of anticipation when you sit down to the keyboard. I strive to recapture that joy on a daily basis, and even though I’m pretty sure I could get it back a lot easier if I didn’t have to spend 8 hours in a cubicle at a job I despise every day.

    May I make a suggestion? Print out this post and tuck it away for future reference. There may come a time (though I hope not) where you find yourself struggling with this writing business. And you will need to remember that joy. 🙂

    1. What a lovely reply, Melissa. We are indeed bitten by the same bug although you seem to have been in its thrall for longer than me. Wishing you great success!

  2. And I didn’t proofread before I hit “reply.” I didn’t really finish my thought on the whole job thing…but suffice to say that I am at the day job right now because this is where I’m supposed to be at this particular time in my life, but it does have a way of sucking the joy out of my daily existence, and I will often think of my writing with longing during those particularly painful long Friday afternoons (like today),

    Ok, I shall stop rambling now!

  3. What an interesting conversation! I do a lot of writing in my job but I have never thought of it that way. My brain never stops, processing, analysing, making invisible connections between almost everything. I have often thought of putting it on paper. Reading your thoughts inspires me to try. I am really starting to enjoy your blog, thank you for inviting me, Mary! 🙂

    1. How wonderful to hear from you, Albena. As you can see, I’m hooked on writing which was a startling revelation to me after so long in the business world. Perhaps you will find mixing business with ‘letting loose’ creative is a synergistic combination. I’ll look forward to hearing from you again.

  4. I do the same thing. I’ll be pushing my son in his pram around the neighborhood and working on all manner of ideas that just pop into my head. I also used to keep a small notebook and pen in the pocket in the driver’s side door for scribbling great thoughts while stopped at traffic lights. I’m glad to see I’m not the only obsessive writer.

    1. At 29, my son is much too big for a pram but I hope you are enjoying every minute of motherhood – OK, almost every minute! I suspect there are a lot of obsessive writers out there. Perhaps I can trademark the phrase writaholic? Thanks for visiting – I assume from somewhere in Great Britain?

      1. Glad to stop by, I’m from Australia actually – did the word ‘pram’ give me away? Fortunately my son is only 16 months old, so doesn’t look out of place in his pram – though now I have an image in my head of a grown man in a pram that will keep me giggling all day. Motherhood is fabulous, if a bit tiring.

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