November 13, 2010

Do you eat during a day of writing?

When I'm writing, the world disappears. There is no world. If I have music on, I don't hear it. If something crashes outside my window, I only register a distant noise. None of it matters. There is nothing in the universe except what I'm writing.

One thing I've noticed is that I never eat when I'm writing, not because that's the plan but because I don't think of it. I do not feel hunger and I never lose energy: I am a writing machine. The only thing that can get through to me when I'm writing is my own thoughts.

Writing always feels like a rush. I have the sensation of flying as my fingers dart across the keyboard. It's like a drug in many ways (and I'd know, take my word on this). When druggies are on a toot, they don't eat -- and I think the writing rush causes a similar effect. We tap into our adrenaline reserves as we write, and as is typical with this raging chemical, we rise above mortal concerns. Lift that truck? Sure! Hunger? Meh. It just doesn't come up.

And when it's over it's like coming down from speed. I find myself wondering when I last ate, and can't answer the question. I'm shaky and feel like I'm about to collapse. At the end of a day of writing, the lack of calories hits me so hard that I can hardly walk to the kitchen to prepare something to eat.

Afterward, in the evening, the rush is still there -- though in a gentler form. It remains behind, glowing, buoying me up. I just feel so damn good when the writing's gone well.

But there is a price to pay for this wild ride. I find the constant rise and fall of my writing days takes a lot out of me, especially when I'm closing in on the end of a book. Then, I can't let go and after writing diligently for two or three weeks to finish the story, I crash back to Earth and fall apart.

For days after finishing a novel, it's actually hard to think -- or rather, I don't think at all. I'm like a zombie. And when I try to resume writing after a long run and a period of rest, it's a struggle to get myself going. It's the exhaustion from riding the wave. 

Still, I'll take the rush of writing and bear its aftereffects stoically, every time.  My opinion? It's faaaaabulous!  Any of this sound familiar? Tell me about it in the comments.

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