compulsion to write

I’m compulsive. And I deeply think that it has to be something very neurotic. And I’m not joking. . . . I don’t have to do anything. Nothing. I can just sit around. But, suddenly it starts, you see. This terrible feeling that I am just wasting my life, I’m useless, I’m no good. Now, it’s a fact that if I spend a day busy as a little kitten, racing around. I do this, I do that. But I haven’t written, so it’s a wasted day, and I’m no good. How do you account for that nonsense?

– Doris Lessing (Bill Moyers Interview, PBS Now, January 24, 2003)

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  • Stephen Tiano
    Jul 9, 2008 at 0:07

    Now THAT’s what it means to write.

    Two things I remember …

    First. Some famous author whose name escapes me said (I’m paraphrasing, I’m sure) that he doesn’t have so much that someone who says they want to be a writer will be. But he’s got greater confidence that someone who says they want to write will.

    Second. It drove me crazy in my college writing courses to hear people say the reason they were taking the course was to “express” themselves and other hearts and flowers reasons. I always said it was for discipline, and that if I could not write and still feel okay, I wouldn’t.

    I’ve since gotten past the bad feeling. A little.

  • JPFanshawe
    Jan 20, 2009 at 16:49

    On Lessing…a feeling, or thought, with which I am well-acquainted. I would ask, though, what is the purpose of writing, if not to connect to other people? Odd then, that it takes solitude to make that connection.

    I don’t feel my days are wasted if I don’t write each day, because I am forgoing the writing, usually, to be with family, friends, etc. But then, at this point I am required to rationalize this way, right?