How My Addictive Personality Actually Fuels My Writing

I am not ashamed to admit that my susceptibility to habits (good or bad), has in the past gotten the best of me. I can, at times, find myself constantly in search of that next dopamine hit.

Cue Camp NaNoWriMo. The not-so-scary event which takes place twice a year in the virtual woodlands of the internet. Unlike the main November NaNoWriMo, where writers declare their project and commit to writing 50,000 words of it, Camp NaNoWriMo gives writers the opportunity to set their own personal word count goals. According to the website, this event ”offers you the flexibility to try something new with your writing….you’re not locked into 50,000 words, and you can officially tackle any kind of writing project, novel or not.”

(Hmm, tell me more.)

I attempted NaNoWriMo this past November and by attempt, I mean that I signed onto the website and created an account. And that’s about as far as my progress went. I wrote a whopping 1500 words total that month. And not for anything close to resembling an actual project. (Hangs her head low in shame).

But in reality, I was still finding my voice. I couldn’t possibly begin to write 50,000 words because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted any of those words to be. And being the pantser that I am, it’s difficult to sit down to a blank screen without a single idea and expect the next great thought-provoking experience to pour out.

But all the cool kids were doing it, so I continued to show up. Dappling here and there like a recreational smoker. You know the type, the ones that only have a cigarette or two the five times a year they go out to a bar, while you’re over there ducking out during Easter dinner to quell your nic-fit. But then suddenly, out of nowhere, but as if it had been sitting there all along and I never noticed, I found it — my drug of choice if you will — my voice! And the hormones that have time and time again dictated my endeavors took their place at the wheel.

I began to crave the writing process. The feeling of my fingers on the keyboard. Seeing letters magically appear and smear across the screen like acid trails in a forest of hallucinations. And the word count. Oh! The word count! That sweet thrill of hitting Control+shift+C and the anticipation during that split-second before the word count window pops open. My dopamine levels immediately sore as it appears and I race back into writing, each time hoping it brings me even closer to the true euphoria of completion.

I fear that chasing this dragon may at times cue some of my more undesirable personality traits. And my friends and family are once again subject to the highs and lows that come when someone like me plays with their mood like a marionette. Just the other day my dad sat me down and said I was showing alcoholic tendencies. Nope, Dad. Not true. I’m just a writer.

But besides that, it seems to be working to my benefit. After only 6 days, I can see the finish line and I’m racing towards it like a jackrabbit on speed. My only hope is that my heart doesn’t give out the moment before I get there, or something else tickles my fancy just enough for me to give up on this fantastic high. I find it hard to believe either of those things will happen. (Much like I never thought I could quit smoking — or any of the other not-so-healthy habits I’ve explored, but oh well.) I see myself continuing to obsess over the metrics of my progress and revisiting camp again and again, long after many of the other campers have outgrown its games. Because some habits die hard. And some of us can’t seem to let go of all those special camp memories. The ones that keep us constantly searching for that feeling we got when we first kissed a boy under a tree…and took a hit of his weed.

Happy Camping!

Disclaimer: I do not condone drug use or the fostering of addictive tendencies in any way. If you or someone who love has a problem with addiction — talk to a professional addiction counselor to find the help you need.



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