where the writers are
The Need to Write (originally published on The Huffington Post)

Since the age of ten, when my mother gave me my first journal to help me cope with the loss of my grandmother, you can say I have been addicted to writing. You might think of having an addiction as something to be treated, and in some cases it might well be. However, the only possible negative connotation about being addicted to writing is that sometimes in order to get your work done, you need to isolate yourself. This might result in severed or strained personal relationships or maybe none at all. It can also mean that if you write stories for cathartic reasons, you are writing about things that become so painful to process that you have to stop writing to hold on to your sanity. For the most part, unlike other addictions, the practice of writing is typically not a harmful one.

When writing memoir, it is easy get engulfed in writing about oneself, so involved that it can become detrimental if the author begins too much navel-gazing. This can be counter-productive and sometimes it is just better to stop writing and let the discomfort or pain dissipate.

In her book, The Midnight Disease, Alice Flaherty discusses hypergraphia, which she defines as the incurable disease of writing. She discusses the writer's altered state of consciousness, mood swings, feelings of doom and ecstasy, altered sexuality and overpowering desire to write. She talks about this possibly being a cause of temporal lobe epilepsy, a type of epilepsy resulting in recurrent seizures, which can cause hypergraphia. These temporal lobe seizures can affect creativity. She used the example of Russian author, Dostoevsky whose personality showed all five traits of Geschwind's Syndrome, a condition presenting symptoms such as hypergraphia and a deepened emotional and cognitive response. The Russian author often engaged in highly detailed writing, obsessions, violent rages and unusual sexuality. Similar to others who have temporal lobe epilepsy he found extra meaning in everyday events.
Those who are susceptible to hypergraphia have also shown signs of getting into a trance when writing or what in literary circles is known as "automatic writing." If you are a published writer or have written a lot, you certainly understand the phenomenon. This has happened to me on many occasions, as it has to many of my colleagues. Sometimes I will jot an idea in my journal and then bring it to my computer to develop it and start writing. The phone will ring, the dog will bark, the rain will fall, the sun will set, and I will not realize where all the time has gone. I might have been at the computer for six hours without realizing it. I disappear into the words and truly enter this unexplainable trance-like state. This is a divine place to be. It feels good. This is the place I find my highest level of creativity.

Speaking of creativity, is it possible that some addictions foster creativity? Writers on The Edge: 22 writers speak about addiction and dependency which I compiled and edited with my colleague, James Brown, to be released by Modern History Press on February 1st, includes essays of writers who have battled various addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, food, sex, love, and gambling. Some claim that their addictions can foster their creativity, but more often then not there is the premise that their writing has helped them understand and survive whatever addictions they are facing. Most, if not all, are very accomplished writers who are at a stage in their lives when they want their stories to help others. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this project and to know that so many people find solace in writing as a way to cope with life's challenges. I certainly know that I do!

 

 

Comments
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re:the need to write

Writing is not an addiction. To me it is a reason for being where the visceral, physical, intellectual, philosophical, theological and fantastical take place in the mind and blend within the scope of my abilities. 

Unlike some writers who find answers to their quests in their work, I write because I have found those answers and wish to share them with others( for my philosophical-creative influenced releases).

For my lighter humorous works, they are merely entertainment and satirical commentary.

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re: the need to write edit to comment

Adddendum:

I don't get into a trance. However I do get immersed in the intricacies of thought spawned by logical progression or that of inspiration! 

 

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need to write

Fascinating.  I look forward to reading your book.

I do think that the overwhelming drive of which you speak can be concentrated in one area, such as writing, or many.  I've known musicians—performers and composers—who were outstanding painters, poets, carpenters, and chefs, and who treated their secondary pursuits with the same fervor as they did their primary ones.  What they all seemed to share was a heightened sensitivity to different forms of sensory data—sight, sound, touch,  taste—and a consuming need to make something concrete out of it. 

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A Comforable Writer

I like the simplicity of Wong Li Ming. I have experienced many methods of writing. I do not find my style complicated, but I pray before I write and then let my fingers fall where they may. I like to write from my feelings and probably spend to much time worrying about the editing. This sometimes have convinced me not to put my work consistently out of my mind and into the market. I believe there is an audience for every writer if we put our heart and soul into the subject and less on the format. To my fellow authors who have worked in journalism, do you find easier to write and find your work admired by fellow authors or is it the imagination? Also, do fiction writers find it easy to write non fiction? Or, do non fiction writers find it easy to write fiction?  

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Style of Writing

I believe being genuine in writing is very important. People can sense if you are giving of your self, in other words being instead of "politically correct" I try sometimes to be "Writers Correct". This stops me from free flowing my thoughts into a cosmic prism so that my colorful expression of my passionate being can be displayed on the pages, instead of me worrying about whether others will take offense or truly understand that I am passionately stimulating the conversation. I love to communicate about subjects that stir my mind into creativity by engaging others into today's subjects. My question is to those of you have been writing for years, has there been any threats made toawards for speaking your mind boldly on any unpopular subject? If so, what was the subject and how did you handle the situation afterwards?