The Dangers of Writing

- by Anna Jacobs

Sometimes I run workshops for writers, and a new crop of hopefuls turns up each time. The world seems full of would-be novelists. That thought keeps me on my toes.

I love the wannabes’ enthusiasm, and some of them have brilliant story ideas. That also keeps me on my toes.

But I always wonder whether I should warn those bright-eyed hopefuls of the main danger involved in writing: in a word, addiction. Juvenal (55-140 AD) called it ‘the incurable itch of writing’. Nothing much seems to have changed since his day!

This addiction creeps up on you slowly and you may not realize at first what’s happening. By the time you do, it’s too late. You’re hooked.

If I don’t write nearly every day, I get withdrawal symptoms and become distinctly grouchy. If I’m kept from my writing for a substantial period like a month, as I was twice last year through family illness, I become downright depressed. I’ve clearly got a hopeless case of story addiction. Perhaps I should start a Storytellers Anonymous support group?

And yet, no other job I’ve ever done has given me such pleasure. After nearly 50 novels I still get excited when a new book-baby is published or when I suddenly get a story idea that lights up my imagination, and my dreams are peopled with characters and scenes from all sorts of stories.

To appease my conscience, however, I’d like to take this opportunity to warn the unwary who are thinking of venturing into fictionland: story-telling is extremely addictive. It’ll affect not only you but your families or significant others. In fact, it takes a very special person to live with a novelist and the dozens of characters a writer has in mental tow all the time.

My conscience is now clear, but I doubt this warning will make a scrap of difference to you if you really do have the itch to write. And that’s as it should be. What would the human race do without its storytellers?

14 comments

  1. Hi Anna
    Your excellent advise has come too late for me! But thank you for your post – I had a good chuckle!
    :)
    Sharon

  2. Oops, that should have been ‘advice’!
    My “send” finger was too fast!
    :)
    Sharon

  3. Anna, Fancy opening a web page and finding a long standing hero has printed wisdom. —- I’ve read the result of your efforts at the desk. It makes me happy to hear you enjoy creating masterpieces as much as I enjoyed reading them. —- Thank you — I might just keep watching here and save up. I can think of nothing more rewarding then a lesson of your wisdom on writing (and life). —- Eric

  4. Anna, great stuff and soooooooooo true. Thanks for the reminders :-)

    Liz

  5. Welcome to the world of blogging, Anna!

    Looking forward to reading more of your wonderful advice.

    Oh! Blogging is addictive, as you will soon see…

    :-) Mon

  6. Hi Anna,

    Too late for me too. Writing in any form is good. Letters, my journal, an e-mail or a story!!!

    I’m new to blogging too, this is only the 3rd time I’ve posted a comment (two to-day). If Monica is right, I’m doomed!

  7. Anna – fantastic first blog. And yes, a writer’s life is a dangerous one indeed. Withdrawals when not creating, aches and pains if you don’t get out of your seat, having so much research information wanting to escape.
    :) Hope you had fun blogging.

  8. Great first post, Anna!
    All very true of course. I’m a proud member of SA (Storytellers Annon) :o)

    Take care,
    Anne.~

  9. Hi Anna,

    Great blog. Never would have known it was your first if you hadn’t told me.

    Cheers
    Margaret

  10. Telling stories is the stuff of life. Nothing I enjoy better than a good story, both in the telling of it or being told. No, wait, there’s chocolate. No wonder the two combine wonderfully well, especially with romance novels. Welcome to blog land, Anna, your books are fabulous stories indeed.

  11. Hi Anna,

    Great first blog. If only I could get to one of your workshops. As for addictions – what else could be done with the characters in my head?

    H! :)

  12. Hi Anna

    As always your advice is spot on and research in the form of reading is my favourite pass times. Have realised in the last few days that have more of your books than anyone else’s. Looking forward to your next releases.

  13. Very true, Anna. Too late for this one but gave me a chuckle. Only writers understand.
    Sometimes too, those that come to workshops are only in love the the idea of writing a best seller, not actually doing the writing.
    http://www.daleharcombe.com

  14. of course then there are those who come to workshops who only want to have written a best seller. They don’t actually want to write. They will never understand this addiction to words.