Addiction is a word that describes many things, yet at it’s core it retains it’s singular meaning. Mostly, it’s implications are disastrous to mental health, but as I writer I often find it is the addiction to my imaginary worlds that keeps me returning to explore the characters and scenes. It is the key quality of my personality, for good or bad, that has fuelled my creative processes; without it I may well have a successful job and be living the life of pleasure that comes with job security: but at the cost that I would also be empty inside.
Alcoholism and drugs are no joke and my comparison is the compulsion that one gets to do something that offers peace from the reality of life, so in that way I am compelled to escape into my own worlds of fantasy because life is better there. I don’t have to think about how alone I feel, or how unjust the world is, or of the atrocities that people commit in distant parts of the world.
I don’t have to worry about what people think of me because the characters I am addicted to are personifications of my inner self who are worthy, just and capable; I love them intensely.
I imagine I am them.
This makes for better characters and better stories because I am so utterly addicted to my world that I can think about nothing else and find it difficult sometimes to function in the physical world. It’s great for churning out words too.
Hold a job though? Forget it!
Of course this addiction is a common problem for writers throughout history. Charles Dickens was famous for his addiction to Opium, Edgar Allan Poe for alcoholism, and even Stephen King’s family staged an intervention over his cocaine habit. Yet the person who springs to my mind most clearly is Ernest Hemingway, whose alcohol addiction and escapism from the real world tragically ended in suicide.
The answer to this ugly quality I don’t know. It is a common problem amongst writers, great and unknown, but being aware of it perhaps it can be better understood and managed.
All qualities are a part of us and we can choose how they manifest in our personalities. How does addiction rear it’s head in your writing life and how do you manage it?