Saturday, January 31, 2015

Writer's High, AKA Writing Beast Mode

For a few years, I was an avid runner. I like to think of myself as still a runner, though my left knee tends to disagree. So for now I'm a runner who walks. I used to subscribe to running magazines and still follow running blogs, websites and such. One of the things that's discussed a lot in the running community is the so-called "runner's high." A phenomenon in which the runner experiences euphoria at some point in a long run. I've never experienced it and am half convinced it has something to do with a lack of oxygen to the brain.

A phenomenon I don't recall ever having been discussed in the writing community (and I'm privy to so much discussion in the writing community) is that of the writer's high. I'd never even thought of the possibility until yesterday. It was every teacher's dream--a Friday snow day. So I did what I like to do when I have a bonus free day, which is take my laptop to my local Panera Bread, drink about eleventy billion cups of coffee (alas, decaf since I was hoping to sleep sometime in the next week) and get some writing done.

So there I was, earbuds in place, instrumental music playing, and my rough draft in front of me. I was at a pivotal spot--the climax of the first major crisis. This was the one where Harry and Dee's relationship hangs in the balance. A thoughtless thing is done; a hurtful thing is said, setting off a chain of potentially disastrous events. That was the plan for the day. So I started writing. It was a little before 2pm.

Four and a half hours (and I know this only because the clock on my laptop said so--I was genuinely shocked to look outside and see that it was dark and had to look at the clock twice because it didn't seem real) and more than 4000 words later, the chapter--the longest chapter I've ever written-- was complete. I know it's going to need lots of editing and proofreading, but it's mostly there.

The point, though, is that I experienced something I didn't know was possible. I had a writer's high. I was so zoned in on the writing that I seriously think that Kate Upton could have sat down beside me in the buff and I might not have noticed. Time went by, people passed all around me, and coffee went in (and then back out) by the gallon, and I paid it all no attention. I was so completely immersed in this event I was writing down that it was all that mattered. I say writing down because it almost felt more like I was taking dictation than I was making this stuff up myself. Like I was the conduit for the story more than the creator of it.

When I was finished, I felt kind of punch drunk. I ordered dinner, ate it, went to the bathroom, packed up, and went to the car still feeling the remnants of elation and in a nearly trancelike state. I started coming out of it as I pulled out of the parking lot and realized I hadn't looked for oncoming traffic. I'm happy to report there was none. You may have figured that out since I'm writing this blog entry.

But this brings up an important and frightening question. How many writers have experienced what I did and have tragically not lived to tell the story because they stepped in front of a bus or driven around a barrier and gotten obliterated by an oncoming train? We may never know. But it's probably some. Possibly even more.


  1. I've known this a few times, and you're right - it's so intoxicating it's unbelievable. It made me love my story even more, knowing that I had become so engrossed in its creation, and hoping that maybe someone reading it one day would also experience that high of the outside world vanishing away and the story being the only thing that mattered.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree--the hope that a reader will respond in a similar way is quite exciting. :)

  2. Lol. This is just great! So glad that you experienced this. Well, minus the 'could've been' car accident part.

    1. If my experience can save one life, it's worth it all.