Are Writers Workaholics?

Let’s face it, writers tend to have obsessive personalities. I know I do. Harry Potter, Disney, Dragonriders of Pern role play, I can even become obsessed with school and freelance work. Perhaps that’s why writers are able to write; our brains simply won’t let the material go until we have completed the project to our satisfaction. Sometimes that means that we never let a project go, instead turning it into an entire series of books, stories, poems, or essays. That’s great. After all, that means we will never be wanting for material. But what about when we become obsessed with our work, to the point that we snap if we get interrupted? It makes me wonder: are writers workaholics?

Writers are rather contradictory by nature. We dread writing and yet we dread not writing even more. I’ve been busy with various freelance jobs recently and, as a result, I haven’t been able to focus my imaginative power enough to work on my own writing. It’s killing me. I’m riding a high from working on other projects but a part of me dies when I don’t write. I know that other writers feel the same way.

I suppose that people can easily become workaholics when they love what they do. As they say, those who do what they love will never work a day in their lives. Since writers simultaneously love and dread what they do, it’s no wonder they pick up workaholic traits. Add to that the obsessive behavior and you will no longer be mystified by writers who lock themselves away for days on end working on their latest novel or poetry collection.

Image retrieved from “7 Signs of Being a Workaholic”

So, we’re workaholics. All artists are. Is that a bad thing? Not always.

On the one hand, workaholic behavior can increase productivity. That’s a given. You work more and more work gets done. As long as we have something to focus on, we’re also happy. Frustrated, perhaps, especially when we have writer’s block or get interrupted, but happy nonetheless. Eventually, that increased productivity may also lead to more money if our work sells.

Increased productivity, happiness, and money, what could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, as with most workaholics, writers burn the candle at both ends. We push ourselves to our absolute limits, ignoring our other needs and the needs of those who rely on us. We may feel happy while we’re working but, in the long run, we risk destroying other aspects of our lives.

In life and in writing, we have to balance work and other needs/desires very carefully. If we don’t write at all, we die inside. If we let writing take over our lives entirely, we lose those relationships and experiences that enrich our art. When we finally achieve that balance, that is when we are truly happy and successful. More importantly, that is when our work becomes its best, infused with the passion of our minds and the richness of real life experiences.

Do you think writers are workaholics? Obsessive? How do you handle the work/life balance? Leave your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on our Facebook page.


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

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