On the stress of needing to write

I assume that anyone reading this, has at some point, had a need to write. A burning sensation in your gut or brain or heart telling you to write down your thoughts or feelings or ideas. These early days of this desire are exciting, and the ideas flow out for better or worse. In the beginning it’s easy, and the euphoria that is felt cannot be explained to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. You are quite literally writing on a high and an addiction sets in. I think Susan Orlean said it best;

Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.

I think we have all at some point felt this exact way, regardless of our own individual abilities. Eventually, however, this euphoria wears off and something wholly different kicks in. Stress. The stress of the next great line, the stress of getting that euphoric feeling back. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not only writing for ourselves. Of course, that is how it starts, you have a hole somewhere, your head, your heart, your soul, whatever you want to call it, and it needs to be filled and you fill it with words. You tell yourself those words are the only thing that can fill these gaps. At some point though you get brave you get cocky, you realize these words, in this order, right here, right now are perfect and someone else MUST see this. They love it, or least they say they do, and that’s it, that’s all you needed. This confirmation, whether true or false, doesn’t matter. Sure, you acted humble, but your arousal is infinite. Beneath that arousal though there is something creeping up, digging into that hole. If you put it into words it would be, “I can’t wait to do that again, OH SHIT, I HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN!” This is when you realize that, writing, good writing is hard. Being creative, creating something that you love and that others will love is the most rewarding and terrifying and stressful thing a writer must contend with. Luckily, for most writers, their arrogance and their bloody kneed, dick sucking, addiction to the euphoria and recognition keeps them moving toward that next great line. However, we should all probably take Kurt Vonnegut’s advice;

               “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

However, I think Zadie Smith is probably more on point;

            “Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.”

The euphoria will never feel the same. The critics will never love you the same way as the first one. The stress will be debilitating at times. We will hate everything we write. We will never be satisfied. But we will keep coming back to it, because we love it, all of it, the recognition, the adoration, the high, but ultimately, we need to fill up what is missing and only the next line can do that.

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27 Comments

  1. I find it to be the emotions have been unloaded onto the page. It’s as if a weight has been lifted from my soul, whenever I do that.

    Otherwise, I erupt, break shit in my house, and the cops are called. This has happened at least 8 times last year, since I got off an anti-psychotic. It felt like my body was being ripped apart from the damn withdrawals. I was miserable. Though, my writing had improved drastically, because the emotions were so intense, it was like trying to tame Godzilla.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Risperidone. It’s a monster of a drug.

        Some say on a few forums I’ve read that it’s worse than getting off heroin. Though, I’ve never tried heroin, so I can’t make a comparison.

        There was one time I got into this creative surge, and I wrote four 18,000 word novellas, in the span of a month. After that, I fell into a burnout, which created a session of insomnia. I couldn’t sleep for four days.

        On the fourth day, I took a walk for 12 miles, on nothing but adrenaline, and slept (somewhat) soundly during that night.

        This was all during the withdrawals.

        As for “feeling stressed” after a writing session, I feel that depression, like I’ve just let off a load from my shoulders. And now, a very thin page holds them in a book. Like a thousand pounds is being held up somehow, on a page that is thinner than a grain of sand.

        Sorry. Lol.

        Needed to vent.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Somewhat, man.

        I’ve been helping a very close friend of mine, financially.

        I’ve known her for years, and she’s been in the impoverished zone, full of illness and depression.

        I try my best to get her out of the Hell she’s in, and I’d like to call myself a hero for what I’ve done, but I’m too humble for that.

        As you can probably see, I like to live my life with adventure. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Writing has always followed me around. Casting its spell. It’s been a life long journey for me. I have journals,lots of journals, full ..my blog runs deep with poetry. I’m always writing. Trying not to write seems impossible.at least for me. After all these years I still do not know how to turn it off.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ain’t this the truth. It’s a matter of behavior modification. When you produce something and it has positive reception, you get the dopamine high. That feeling feels good so you try it again. Just like starting to smoke. It’s a habit that starts to form if you continue to get enough positive reaction, until you overthink it and then you get anxious. Just like someone who is in love and later starts thinking will this continue to last? So, writing is just another type of behavior that some of us have incorporated as a habit and so we react as we would with any other thing we like and we’re afraid to “lose.” What to do about it? Relax and focus on the other positive feeling of release from writing instead of the reaction from others out there. As you know, if you rely too much from outside reaction, then you can talk yourself into a real tense writer’s block. Thanks for visiting and the follow. By the way, that post you liked is a good example of what you wrote above. I wrote it because it just formed in my head and even though it held no real significance and may be violent or dark, I put it out there because I thought it was creative. It was an artistic expression that definitely falls in the “take it or leave it” category.

    Liked by 1 person

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