Nirvana or ‘snuffing out’ is the state of enlightenment achieved when karma and craving are extinguished – clearly nothing at all to do with the Seattle grunge scene.
Writing can become an addiction, much the same as any other, and when it reaches the stage where it’s affecting your health, peace of mind and relationships with loved ones, maybe it’s time to take a break.
Here are the warning signs that writing has too tight a grip on your throat:
- Stealing. When you get home from work it may be wise to spend a little bit of quality time throwing your children around (no – not against the walls) and hugging and squeezing your dearly beloved. If you enter the family home whilst tapping away on your smartphone and then go straight to the computer and boot it up, all without glancing at the faces of your family, then you are doomed to the seventh sub-level of hell. Partners and children will be upset and frustrated, if not furious, if you steal their access to you. However, on the bright side – they may just write you out of their life leaving you to get on with your own thang. If you arrive home one day and find a note that says something like ‘your dinner is in the recipe book and the ingredients are on the supermarket shelves’ then you will know exactly what has happened.
- Lying. So – you finished your latest science fiction novel ages ago and now you’re working on a series of erotic stories based on the lives of the people you secretly observe on the bus. And you know that your partner wouldn’t approve so that’s why you say you’re still working on your novel. I mean, it’s considerate of you that you’re going to publish this borderline pornography under a pseudonym (Fifi Scuttlebottom – hahaha) so that you protect the reputation of your family and all that, but is that any excuse for not telling your shrink about it? I mean, this is what you pay her for – right? If you find yourself telling little porky pies (cockney rhyming slang – look it up) to your nearest and dearest then you are on the slippery slope to addiction.
- Cheating. Were you really working late at the office, or were you completing the latest chapter of your latest magnum opus? Did you really spend the evening attending the New York premiere of Suicide Squad or did you actually sit in Starbucks working on the outline to your final chapter, on your smartphone? Did you, in truth, go for a long walk by the river to clear your head, or did you spend time in the library researching your latest set of characters! C’mon – you know that you shouldn’t be cheating like this – it’s shameful and nefarious! Plus – what’s wrong with you? An invite to a premier and you’re in a coffee shop? No – that’s not acceptable!
- Sucking. Blaming your tiredness on eating too much chocolate when really you’re getting up at 1am and sneaking downstairs with your laptop to squeeze out another half-dozen pages of your learned treatise on the nocturnal habits of the upper-Caledonian, short-limbed, chatter-bottom sparrow is not only a waste of a good opportunity to eat chocolate, but it is perfect example of how you suck as a human being when you are addicted to writing so much that you prefer being tired and grumpy when you could be fresh-faced and excited when you get up each morning to face your über-boring life – a life without writing – a life without any creativity – a life that has been washed so many times that it has faded to the colour and consistency of bone. Hmm.
You may be sensing some ambiguity in my attitude towards writing as an compulsion. This is because I am a writing addict and I admit that I am powerless over my addiction – that my life has become unmanageable. Having said that – I enjoy myself enormously, so what to do?