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Archive for August, 2010

Addicted to Writing

I’m about to graduate an Addiction Counseling Master’s Program which means that I will be a licensed alcohol and drug counselor after I pass my exams (fingers crossed!).  I diagnose clients with alcohol and drug dependency on a daily basis so I’m very familiar with the DSM-IV criteria fro dependence and abuse.  I was finishing up an assessment the other day, when I realized that I could apply most of the criteria to my life as a writer.  So I broke down each of the seven criteria.  You only need to meet three of these seven to be considered a writing addict.

1.  Tolerance – Needing more to create the same effect OR a diminished effect from writing the same amount.  It could be that writer’s high – the feeling of euphoria when you feel you’ve written something amazing.  You might need to write more before you can achieve this high.  Or maybe you’ve become tolerant of your writing in general and have begun to think that it’s all worthless. 

2.  Withdrawal – Characteristic withdrawal symptoms are present OR writing to reduce withdrawal symptoms occurs.  These symptoms can include irritability, anxiety, headaches, character’s consistent nagging at you to continue writing their story, etc.  Keep in mind that you can’t have withdrawal if you don’t have tolerance. 

3.  Writing often occurs in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.  Let’s say you have a writing goal of 1,000 words per day or editing one chapter per day.  But then you hit that pivotal scene, the one that you’re so wrapped up that you don’t even realize what you’ve done until 5,000 words and three hours later.  You may have had other plans, but it’s okay because that idea would have been gone if you hadn’t written it down. 

4.  A persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control the amount that you write.  I experience this most often when there is something that I need to complete that is boring, such as homework.  I make deals with myself.  “Well, I have this paper due on Friday, but it’s only Monday, so I can write tonight and then work on the paper tomorrow.” 

Fast forward to Thursday.  “I really need to write that paper, but I just had this inspiration for an amazing scene.  Maybe I can write a little and then write the paper after that.”

This tends to go hand in hand with #3.  Because let’s face it, if your trying to cut down on your writing in order to get other important things done, you’re probably writing more than you intended to write in the first place.

5.  A great deal of time is spent obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of writing.  I’m a night writer.  It’s hard for me to get anything accomplished if the sun is up.  This means that I’m usually writing from about 8pm to 11pm or 12am.  I typically write until I’m too tired for my brain to work properly.  Then I drag myself to bed and go to sleep.  The only problem with that is that my character’s are so amped up in my mind that their nagging at me to write this scene and that scene.  Amazing ideas run through my mind in that time when I’m not really asleep or awake.  The next morning, I’m aware that I’ve had these ideas.  The only problem is that I have no idea what they were.  Then I spend the next several hours trying to remember what those ideas were.

6.  Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced due to writing.  Thankfully, I don’t feel that I fall into this category.  However, you might belong here if you make plans to write and then turn away plans to hang out with people in the real world instead of in your imagination.  You also might fit in here if you write while at work.   Okay, so maybe I do fit in here.  I’ve written while at work in the past.

7.  Continued writing despite knowledge of a physical or psychological problem.  This means you, carpal tunnel victims.  One of the qualifications to be a writer is to be a little bit crazy.  So, I’m not even going to touch the psychological problems piece.  But I think it’s safe to say that if you have carpal tunnel and you’re typing on a computer for hours a day, you might be exacerbating the problem.

 There you have it – the seven criteria for writing dependence*.  Maybe you know someone who identifies with this.  maybe you ARE someone who identifies with this.  Maybe we should put together a Writer’s Anonymous meeting.  Although we’d probably just sit around and talk about writing.  Not very productive.

*In no way do I claim to be an expert on this matter.

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Seeing as how it is 2010 and I am just creating a blog, I feel that I am somewhat of a technological dinosaur.  However, my writing partner has convinced me that having a blog (and also having twitter) will help me get my name out there.  So there we are.

The main focus of this blog is to discuss all things writing.  But seeing as how I’m a very random person, I’ll probably have some very random entries.  Hopefully, now that I’m done with school, I’ll have more time to commit to keeping this blog updated.

Just a little about myself.  I’m 23 and I write YA urban fantasy.  I’m currently editing my first novel titled “The Scarlet Order.”  I’m hoping to start sending out queries by the end of August/beginning of September.  Any other questions, feel free to ask!

Look for new entries soon!

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