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  1. Gloria Sythe
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    Gloria Sythe Member

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    Can Writing Be An addiction?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gloria Sythe, May 15, 2015.

    We had a very lively discussion at our Writers Club meeting last night that was more interesting than I had perceived it would be when the meeting's agenda was given to us.

    Can writing be an addiction with some people or is it just a strong drive to put our thoughts on paper rather than speak of them verbally? Some argued that indeed writing can be an addiction with some people. It could be classified the same as alcoholism, drug addiction or habitual twitching or blinking.

    I know that I will sit in my teaching class room and jot down notes that could fit into my the story that I am presently writing; however. I will also invision dialogue of my characters as I am driving but not to the point that I am being distracted from my driving. I most certainly do not classify these habits as an addiction.

    Can writing be addiction with some individuals?
     
  2. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think anything can be an addiction if it gets the dopamine flowing.
     
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  3. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    An addiction is basically a destructive compulsive behavior you can't not do no matter hard you try. If it isn't destructive (like breathing) you're fine, and if you can stop, you're fine. If, instead of going to work, you're writing, and you get fired, and your family disowns you, maybe writing is an addiction. As a therapist in training I hope to someday treat a writing addict. It would be so cool.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Anything can be an addiction if you let it. While it may not be as damaging as alcohol or drugs, it can leave a scar on your life.

    However, if you can manage it to the point where it's at least under control, you're fine. It's when it's to the point where you literally can't even run your own life properly that it's bad.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a friend who lost her marriage over writing, and the thought of not writing fills her with dread, depression and anxiety.

    So yeah...
     
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  6. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    People will sooner think themselves into believing they have a writing addiction than the pharmaceutical advent of writer's methodone. People can get "highs" from writing by virtue of being published, impressing themselves at their abilities, and being a rhetorical badass of influence. But is it enough to change the neurochemistry to seek these rewards on a daily basis, or induce withdrawal for that matter from a missed fix?

    Like "internet addiction," what is really at the root of this obsession with writing is something closer to a disorder such as hoarding. The number one reason people hoard animals is that they think they are the only ones who can properly care for and love them. If I think it's my destiny to write the Great American Novel, it's my calling, and so on, then I'd say I have pretty legit excuse to watch my life fall apart. But really, I might just have something like Avoidant Personality Disorder and the writing is just a mask for the root of the symptoms.

    If someone feels like they have a writing addiction, they should ask whether they've always had this problem, perhaps in a different form before they accidentally lump writing in with unhealthy drugs and the like.
     
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  7. A.J. Pruitt
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    A.J. Pruitt Member

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    This topic is indeed very interesting and can lead to many argumentive debates with groups and on Internet based discussion boards, such as this one. I can remember a captivating article by Dr, Donald Webster that was published in Woman’s Day when I worked there. It dealt with addictions and the various forms of addiction. According to Dr. Webster, any task or desire that has enough emotional and/or mental strength to overcome better judgement or to override a required task can be classed as an addiction.

    During 1981 I was on a speaking tour for Woman’s Day and had the privilege of presenting at a writers forum in Greenwich Village in New York. While there I met, what I would consider to be, the literary and art addiction capital of the world. One needs to visit this center of this world to actually appreciate the lives that are lost to a need to write. Many of these people sleep in allies, in parks or where ever else it is flat. They will panhandle on a street but will be writing while they are hoping someone will drop a dollar into their money container.

    Some of these people are gifted artists when it comes to writing; however, much of their work is wasted through the sheer outer edge of their work. Most of their works are suitable for what is called “The Fringe Reader”. I think the best way to describe these people would be to say that they are throwbacks from the hippie era of the sixties. They just never moved forward with the rest of the world.

    With many of these gifted writers, they are trapped in a life destroying addiction. Highly educated but can function only in a world of highly educated literary surroundings.
     
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  8. neuropsychopharm
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    neuropsychopharm Active Member

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    If you're getting super basic with it, sure. But obviously it's more complex. Dopamine is supposed to flow for things that are good for us so we keep doing it, like eating. Drugs can hijack this system and research suggests other behaviors (like eating, again, or sex) may as well. But, speaking from my experience as a former PhD student in pharmacology, most researchers who investigate addiction and reward pathways would argue there's a big difference in pathology between most compulsive behavior and an actual addiction. Like most mental illness it's a matter of degree of impact and suffering. My advisor bristled at people claiming to be addicted to caffeine, for example. You can be dependent on it, sure, but you're not addicted. It's about being unable to avoid the behavior despite the repeated negative consequences, and the behaviors you'll employ just to seek out whatever you're addicted to.

    Many here may not agree. It's just a habit of mine from studying it to defer to the more clinical definition.
     
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  9. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Absolutely it can be an addiction, if you have an addictive personality, you can easily find yourself swallowed up by any trivial thing. Be it alcohol, sex or work or cleaning.
     
  10. StevieT
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    StevieT New Member

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    In psychology/psychiatry, the word addiction is only used for substances.

    When someone can't stop writing, it's more on the spectrum of obsession. It also depends how someone is able to deal with it. If someone loses her marriage over it, then it's surely a problem. If someone is able to still keep a social life going and be healthy, then you could still call it an obsession, but we'd categorize it as something extraordinary.
     
  11. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Anyone with an addictive personality can be addicted to it. I am not among them. I think I got the reverse version for writing.
     
  12. Gloria Sythe
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    Gloria Sythe Member

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    I would tend to call obsessive writing a "obsessive compulsion disorder".

    I like A.P.Pruitt's post about Greenwich Village . Greenwich Village used to be known for its population of the so called Bohemian group who were living on the outer edge of reality and conformity. There is a town in British Columbia Canada that has a young population that sort resembles that era. One can walk down the street and see these people congregating in small groups at the parks, in book cafes and in various parking lots. They to write material that I cannot seem to get my head around; or even understand the concept for that matter.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Contrary to everyone else I don't think it can. If someone says they literally cant stop writing to do other things they should do instead I'd think it's more like a way to escape reality, for all the various reasons one might want to do that. But then I'm not a doctor. It just doesn't sound very likely to me.
     
  14. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yes! Absolutely!

    I feel like I've wasted the day if I haven't done any writing! It doesn't matter if I do five words or five thousand but if I haven't touched my keyboard for a whole day, I start to stress.

    Last year I went away overnight with a friend to see a show. I knew I couldn't take the laptop with me so I took a pen, pencil and note book. Handwrote 659 words while waiting to fall asleep.
    :)
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Do you think the word addiction could be replaced by habit?
     
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  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd rather a twenty year old 'panhandled,' played his literary game in Greenwich Village, than rotted in some finance job, or law or joined the army. But then I'd rather my twenty year old rotted in a finance job...

    Just hypocrisy.
     
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  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Addiction - nah. Necessity - yes.
    Everyone needs to find an outlet to be creative. And those poor souls that don't ... they're like a dried up pen.
     
  18. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    or a dried up pea?
     
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  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nelson? (I'm trying to guess the small town)
     
  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Anything dried up. I remember some people who stopped by to browse my fathers work years ago - one loved it the other said - so, what does this do?
    Grrrrr
    I mean - what does a song do, what does a dance do, what does anything artistic do. If anything it feeds our souls and keeps the functional stuff from driving us batty.
     
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  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    YES! Most people feel better if they have a hobby, something to be passionate about, and writing can be really captivating, when you're in a flow it's really painfull to stop to go to work, but addiction, as in a medical term comparable to alcohol, drugs or maybe gambling addiction, I think not.
     
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  22. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Something to be passionate about - I totally get that.

    People can ask me anything they want, I can talk the hind leg off a donkey (apparently) but according to those closest to me, start talking to me about my book and I virtually light up! My eyes sparkle, my voice becomes lighter and I don't shut up.
     
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  23. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I won't ask about the book if you're gonna squeak.
     
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  24. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I think they mean, I get rather animated.

    I recently had an evening with my editor. I was telling her about an idea for a follow up to book two that had been suggested by a mutual friend of ours and then I went on to tell her about a development with book two. When I asked her what she thought, she said "Don't do the follow up."

    When I asked her why, she said, "because when you were explaining the plot to me, your face didn't light up, there was no conviction to the story like there is when you talk about book two."
     
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  25. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    That should be an indicator as good as anyone! :)
     
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