You’ve been binge writing again, haven’t you?
No point in denying it — it’s as clear as the nose on your pasty, unwashed face. You’ve been gushing hundreds, maybe thousands, of words at a time. You’re way over your limit, your tolerance isn’t what it used to be, and — is that what I think it is? Have you been mixing paranormal romantic fiction and urban fantasy again?
Don’t start with the excuses. I’ve heard them all before. You got caught up in the madness of the creative moment. You were curious to see if it lived up to the hype — how it feels to write yourself into a cloudy haze. All the other writers were doing it!
Now look at yourself. Nauseous, light-headed, wobbly. Unable to speak in complete sentences. Fuzzy gaps in your short-term memory.
And … you’re embarrassingly proud of yourself, aren’t you?
You’re just dying to do it again.
You pity the ones who stopped when they hit the wall.
You didn’t stop. You went mad. You kept writing.
When Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober,” this is what he meant.
Not drink more tequila. This. He meant allow the process of creation to intoxicate you and edit later when your hangover has passed. But that didn’t sound nearly as pithy.
What? He didn’t really say that? Well, he should have said it. Hemingway — of all the drunks we love and honor— should have told us to uncork the words with wild abandon, to set them dancing with strangers, to send them joy-riding in stolen ‘Vettes.
And to edit later … soberly, reverently, discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of Grammarly.
Here — let’s speed up your recovery time:
Force fluids for the sake of your fine motor skills, sure. But what you really need to replenish is your words. Not by reading — by listening. You need to hear lyrical lines, sing songs you love, watch movies with great dialogue. Broadway musicals, audio books, TED talks, stand-up comedy, live theatre. Queue up some classic TV on Netflix. Let some new voices plump up your depleted brain cells.
Not for you — for your novel-to-be. Let it rest. Tuck it under a warm blankie, put it to bed, and let it sleep the whole night through. No, you don’t need to read it again, or check the spelling on that Norwegian word, or change anyone else’s name. Not tonight. You don’t have to pull up a chair and watch it sleep — it’s breathing all on its own.
Have a Hair of the Dog
Write something short and silly. Longer than a tweet, but less organized than a limerick. Write a Thanksgiving card to your cat. A haiku about toenails. A royal decree granting knighthood to that guy who always holds the elevator for you. No pitches. No work emails. No internet research on how long it takes wolf bones to decay in the tundra.
Effusive praise is the ibuprofen of hungover writers. Avoid critiques right now, constructive or otherwise. Call that blindly faithful and mildly annoying friend who always tells you what a magnificent beast you are. Turn her loose.
Starve a cold, feed a hangover. You need nourishment, kid. Good, old-fashioned American swill. This is no time to heed the advice of vegans, distance runners or skinny people. Have a grilled cheese sandwich, with bacon and extra fries. Order the jumbo crab cakes. Doesn’t that strawberry shortcake look good? You bet it does.
Tomorrow, you can go back to microgreens.
Don’t beat yourself up.
You got carried away by NaNoWriMo. We’ve all been there. Look at me — I’m at 17,652 words right now, which is apparently my stop, drop and shatter point. When every cell in my body is screaming fire! Escape! And my best friend, Ms. Resistance, is whispering ‘this is sooooooo boring’ in my ears over and over. When that doesn’t work, she switches to ‘Hey, instead of writing, let’s worry about all the 7 million things currently going to hell in your life!’
Fortunately, this isn’t my first binge, or my first writing hangover. I know what comes next.
So I’m going to have another slice of deep dish pizza, watch a few episodes of the West Wing, and take a walk.
Then I’m going to get my almost-novel out of bed and chase that sweet buzz again. Until it catches me.
I hope you’re out there somewhere, doing the same.