The Writing Curse

I have discovered something about writing that I should have known for all these 30(+) years of sitting at the computer for thousands of hours and getting arthritis in my lower back and suffering shoulder and wrist inflammation and having carpal tunnel surgery and going through the incredible highs and lows of writing for a living … having the talent to write can be a curse!

My husband has always commented that I have incredible energy that doesn’t seem to lessen as I age. Well, I’ve had my moments, and recently I was feeling mysteriously worn out and extremely depressed … so much so that I was going to go to the doctor to see if something was wrong with me. I have been very busy with things unrelated to writing lately, so I’d set my writing aside. Two days ago I finally caught up and decided I’d better get back to writing, even though I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do more than a couple of pages.

Well … I wrote two long scenes for my 4th “Outlaw” book because they’d been bugging me and I just had to get it out of my system. Low and behold, I felt more energized. Then I write a whole chapter to my new Indian romance, and by the time I was done, instead of being tired, I felt like someone had given me an “energy shot!”

I have decided that writing is a curse … i.e. “if you don’t write, you die!” or something like that. If I go too long without writing I literally get tired and depressed. I don’t need protein or vitamins to get me going – I need WRITING to get me going. I know this sounds psychotic, but then I’ve decided most writers are a little bit crazy anyway. After all, most of the time we live in a world far removed from realism. It is very seldom that I am talking to someone, or watching TV or a movie, or working in my garden or washing dishes or whatever, that I am not also “writing” in my head. My husband doesn’t allow me to drive on our trips west because he knows my concentration will not be on the writing. I will be looking out into the mountains or the wide-open plains and I will be thinking about my next chapter or my next book. I’ll see a gang of outlaws charging along the side of a moving train I’m watching, or I’ll see Indians lined up on a hilly horizon, or in driving through Denver I’ll be thinking about what that city was like when it was nothing more than a tent city that sprang up along Cherry Creek because of the discovery of gold.

Writing can be emotionally and physically draining. Sometimes I will ball my way through a certain chapter, or laugh, or worry this or that will upset my readers. Sometimes you have to make big choices when it comes to your characters and what they do or what happens to them. You enjoy a lot of power as a writer – the power to literally control the lives of your characters. And sometimes you truly fall in love with them. I have cried over and mourned some characters, and there are many who meant so much to me that I felt depressed for a while after finishing their story because I miss them. To this day I still miss Zeke and Abbie Monroe from my 7 book SAVAGE DESTINY series – the first books I wrote over thirty years ago. In fact, as involved as I get in most of my stories, I could easily continue every single book into more stories, as I have done in several trilogies and am currently doing with my Outlaw books.

Few non-writers understand what goes on inside the mind of writers. Every person we meet or have ever known lend to the development of certain fictitious characters we bring into our stories. I’ve never written one character who didn’t somehow fit someone I’ve actually known, but I’m not going to name names. Of course I’ve never known anyone as bad as some of my “bad guys,” but then the news takes care of that. No character can be too good or too bad, because such people really do exist.

So … I am cursed. It’s a nice curse in most ways, but there are moments when I want to tell that writing bug to leave me alone. It never works. In this case the “bug” isn’t something you go to bed for and sleep it off. If you go to bed and sleep you only get sicker. You have to get back to work in order to get well and keep the “bug” at bay. Such is the life of a writer.


  1. What a wonderful curse to have! You go!! Keep it going!

  2. So true. I find when I don't have time to write, I'm edgy and depressed. Glad you found time to get back to writing. By the way, you have a new fan. My SH neighbor's mother has fallen in love with your books. I just earned extra points by knowing you.

  3. I agree with you, Rosanne. Writing can be a curse at times. If I don't write for an extended period, I become stressed and my characters give me a headache by pounding on the inside of my skull to get out onto the page. They can be very demanding if I take too long to write their stories.