The Writing Zombie

The Writing ZombieYou don’t really realize how much need something until you don’t have it. I suppose everyone else has learned this by now, but after having spent so much time writing over the last year, I have finally run out of writing projects at work, and haven’t had time to work on any at home. Now, this was fine for a month or so because I had been writing lengthy whitepapers and educational articles that were sucking the life out of me.

I complained about writing them. I groaned about having to find yet another way to say “if you die” (in the event of your passing, should you pass away, when you expire… there are so many out there), and I dreaded having to use the word “important” yet again. But now? Now I have nothing to write at work. Nothing. Instead, we are focusing on other projects. Boring projects. Long and bland projects that require you to squeeze creative juice out of your dried up, papery brain.

It is because of this that I have reached a rather obvious revelation: when I don’t write I become a writing zombie. And though it may seem to be a stretch of a comparison, I honestly feel as if I am lumbering about with arms outstretched hoarsely croaking, “WWWWOOOORRRRDDDSSSS”.

I am markedly unhappy, irritable, and “dark”. My usual cynicism has expanded to new levels and I remind myself of a small child who, when he/she finds his/herself overtired, blurts thing like, “I hate everything”, and “I don’t like you”. I feel slow and pointedly uninterested in all of my other projects. And the reason for all of this immature and uncharacteristic behaviour is a lack of writing.

I always have something on the go, but I seem to be living in an in-between right now. Probably for the first time in years, and it is quite a foreign experience. Of course, I am still reading, still thinking about plots and characters, still planning projects, but I have nothing meaty to write. And apparently, when that happens I turn into a monster.

I never realized how much I needed writing until I didn’t have it, and now I have decided that for me it is akin to a serious addiction. There are words in my veins, in my breath, and in my soul, and when they get trapped it’s like a thick, black, log jam of ink.  I’m surprised I haven’t started spewing random sentences at people. And even more surprised that I haven’t lunged at anyone, pawing at their head, asking for a writing project.

You don’t have to be a writer by trade to be one by heart. It’s the kind of calling that is a part of you, not just something that you like to do or that you are good at. Writing is one of those arts that, when it really is a piece of who you are, you need to practice and release or you will go a little nutty.

Meaning, you become a writing zombie like me, begging for words and devouring them like brains.

Have you ever been a writing zombie? What happens when you don’t have any writing projects? How long can you go without writing?

ICYMI I’m on Facebook.

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11 thoughts on “The Writing Zombie

  1. I don’t know if this qualifies as “zombification”, but when I finish an essay or story for my blog (which happens more and more infrequently of late), I become withdrawn and sullen; despondent, even. It’s as though I’ve become “lost in the woods”, searching for the path I was following, searching for any path that will lead me out of my current state. I find myself barely able to function (or so it seems), just going through the motions of everyday life until, something serves as inspiration for another “bit of blather” for my blog. And then, of course, the entire process repeats itself. I sympathize (and empathize) with your conundrum. Writing is your life (and your living), it’s all you have (or all that seems worth having), and then you don’t have it any longer — at least for a time. I sometimes wonder if writing is the madness we all endure, or is it not writing? Sorry this has gone on so long Strange, isn’t it?
    Writing is a kind of madness, isn’t it? Stranger still is the truth that, if writing is a kind of madness, it’s also the only cure!

    • Your comments are always so profound, I appreciate them. It’s hard to be a writer who isn’t writing, especially when, like you said, writing is something that can only be cured by itself! I know I could work on my own pieces, but I just can’t find the time lately. It’s an odd feeling to have whole days full of no writing at all, when you are so used to doing it for hours and hours at a time. I suppose the only joy in the zombification is knowing that you are really meant to write. We can take solace in that. And we can try to write more in our free time.

  2. Autumn Semester 2013, I gave up writing because I was taking five classes, I had no energy to write, and I had a thousand other things going on, making me feel very stressed. It actually gave me more stress, and I found myself living for my twice-weekly blog posts! As soon as I could, I was back on my horse and dancing with joy because of it.

    So yeah, one could see writing as an addiction. A good one though, and I’ll never go off it again. I don’t want to hurt myself like that again.

  3. I love your image of a “writing zombie”! For me, if I’m writing, I always have a vague feeling that I’m “doing something with my life” even if I’ve only written a page of disjointed notes for some later project. When I haven’t written anything for a while, I feel as though I haven’t really accomplished anything, no matter what other productive things I may be doing. I think it’s because writing (unlike so many household chores) leaves something tangible and lasting behind.

    • Ah, thank you! I feel like it’s one of the few things that I am really good at, so when I don’t do it I suppose I feel too “normal”. Writing makes me feel like I know what I am doing and like I have talent, so I guess that I have learned that when I go without it, I feel less accomplished and less confident. Who knew writing withdrawal was so dangerous?!

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