The writer’s high

The writer's highSometimes we focus so much on the challenges of writing, and how endless a manuscript can feel when you’re stuck in the middle of it, that we forget how amazing writing feels when everything goes right.

Late last summer, several friends and I started gathering once a week, usually Sunday afternoons and evenings, to encourage one another to write. I’d been initially skeptical of these “writing parties,” because I am, generally speaking, a pretty self-motivated person. I get my best work done in a quiet room all by myself. Other people would be distractions—besides which, if I’m spending time with my friends, I’d prefer actually to interact with them rather than sit near them while I work on my own project. Writing, I’d long concluded, is a solo activity.

But not only was I very, extremely wrong, but in participating in this writer’s group, I found myself reacquainted with a wonderful, miraculous part of the writing process called the writer’s high.

The writer’s high is that incredible, giddy feeling you get when you devote yourself to writing and actually succeed. Sometimes we forget that it exists, but it most certainly does, and it had been many months, likely more than a year, since I’d felt it as strongly as I did at the end of that first writing session. My project was (and remains) a screenplay, a cryptozoological dramedy I had been working on since 2011, and after many months of writing only in tiny footsteps, in one evening, I’d taken a dramatic leap forward into the second act.

I could hardly sit still after. I couldn’t stop smiling. Even the next day, I was filled to the brim with happy energy, and reminded as clearly as ever of why I am, and why I need to be, a writer.

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that the key to the writer’s high is a writer’s group. I’m not saying that, once you join one, you will be forever productive. But what I am saying is this:

Writing is pretty awesome.

And that’s not a message we editors deliver nearly often enough. It’s our job, of course, to figure out the problems and help authors understand the changes they need to make, so we do endeavor to be encouraging—or at least I do—but the focus is inevitably on the problems, and the work that needs to be done. Usually, it should be. But sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back and realize that we put ourselves through this for a particular reason. Writing is fun. Writing is great. And a writer’s high is our reward for pursuing what we love.

(Of course, published manuscripts and produced screenplays would also be nice rewards, but one step at a time.)

There’s no great secret to being productive, and no formula that guarantees a writer’s high, but there is a logical truth, which is this: The more often you write, the more likely you are to find it. I meet once a week with my friends—whoever can make it that particular week—and we write for at least three hours. The consistency is key. And common sense tells you that the more time you devote to writing, the more opportunities you have to be so productive as to enjoy, genuinely, the work you have done.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you’re doing something wrong if you don’t produce a lot of work, or if you don’t feel the writer’s high. Often the process is difficult, and often the writing doesn’t come at all. Every writer in the world faces that. The high that comes with great writing is not a goal in itself.

But if you put in the time, which so many talented and aspiring writers do not do, you will at some point get that reminder of why this is the field you want and need to be in. And when you do, treasure it. Don’t forget it. Let that memory remind you, during the days to come when it’s not so easy, that you truly are a writer, and the journey will be more than worthwhile in the end.

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Bio: Harrison Demchick is an editor with nine years of experience in the publishing industry. Specializing in fiction and memoir, he’s worked with children’s books, young adult books, and adult novels of all sorts, from mysteries to thrillers to chick lit to literary fiction and everything in-between. He’s currently taking clients as a developmental editor with Ambitious Enterprises (www.ambitiousenterprises.com), a creative services boutique. His debut novel, The Listeners, came out in December of 2012 from Bancroft Press.

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[Writer image from Shutterstock.]

3 COMMENTS

  1. True, writers high does exist. Each time I finish an article it gives me this boost that makes me keep going to write more.

    The feeling usually is magnified when you find yourself not in the mood for writing and you force yourself. As soon as you’re done writing, you will feel this tremendous bliss.

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