Commitment Versus Addiction

On the face of it these two things look alike. Both require a singular focus, determination, ruthless acquisition and a kind of do or die I can’t live without it attitude. I have known (still know) writers who have persevered unpublished for years and yet remain buoyantly committed to excellence and daily endeavor.

They say they will never give up. They mean it.

They have no time for their few remaining friends, little money, no holidays, not much in the way of furniture and their rentals are cheap bedsits. Family members have long since given up urging them to change careers, earn some money, do something else, get a life. Friends have moved on. Lovers have left unnoticed.

I have also known drug addicts and alcoholics who live for the next fix or drink. They have few remaining friends, little money, no life, they occuppy shabby bedsits and lovers have left unnoticed.

I once read the post of a well-known literary agent who urged writers to evaluate their struggle and possibly recognize it as an addiction. In short, he said, if you keep being rejected, consider giving up and trying something else. I understand he meant well. I also know that had Van Gogh given up, despite selling only one painting in his lifetime, the world would be a poorer place. Vincent didn’t start out as a genius.

He was an average artist who worked every day in a highly disciplined fashion. He measured his incremental improvements and experimented with color and texture until he struck a seam of pure gold genius…his soul.

He was on track and on his path.

Being on your right path in life has a signature and it’s worth noting what that is…it “feels” right.

Addiction is a form of giving up.

Commitment is a celebration of faith.

The addict looks to substance, short-term gain and easy solutions to feel fulfilled.

The person committed to a goal delays gratification, works hard, notes every minor improvement, stabilizes disappointment with the ballast of achievement and keeps faith with his/her art.

Vincent 7

9 thoughts on “Commitment Versus Addiction

  1. Such an excellent, excellent perspective … truth of which I needed reminding in order to “keep on keeping on,” as old-time tent evangelists used to say. (And our ongoing marriage to the passion of writing is rather religious when you get right down to it, is it not?) All the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, isn’t it just? I think any productive commitment is religion in action. Do keep on keeping on! There’s a term in skiing called “miles under the skis” it’s basically used when a teacher realizes he/she can’t teach you any more technique…it’s time to put the miles under the skis. So, with writing, it’s the words on the page…sometimes we write crap and it’s depressing but every word is moving us closer to the best expression of ourselves…our true voice. Didn’t they say in Genesis “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God”…the universes must have been his/her/its best creative expression…to date.

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  3. Hi Wendy – great website! How are you? You must be getting exited about the book launch.
    Just read your article ‘Commitment vs Addiction.’ I think you know you have an addiction when something becomes so obsessive it basically overrides everything else in life, causing massive imbalances, and you reach a point where you become unable to stop through your own willpower. It can be very soul destroying. Addiction can be a dangerous place for writers as it thrives in isolation, no matter how much of the addiction you consume it will never fill that spiritual hole in the core of being. The stats on overcoming serious addiction aren’t promising, but I’ve seen firsthand many times this year that perhaps the only thing that can manage addiction is a true spiritual awakening, which means a psychic shift from the self-centredness of addiction to ‘others centredness’ – or ‘god centredness’. Learning that life isn’t all about me. Hard to believe I know but true! I read this year that ‘other people are your only road out of hell’ and that phrase had sort of stuck with me, so true. That the opposite of addiction, is human connection. Been a bit of a personal journey for me this year, one that will continue. Another thing I’m coming to understand is that the outcomes are not up to me, all I can do is ask for guidance – the rest is in gods hands, or the flying spaggetti monsters, or Thor’s lol. I also know that anything I put before recovery, or god, including my book, I will lose to addiction. You don’t have to live in addiction, it can be managed. So the writing has been going a bit slower for me this year, needed to get some balance back…
    Looking forward to catching up!


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  4. I would like to say: Truer words were never spoken, but having an addictive personality, and having spent some years as an addictions counsellor, the writer’s process and an addict’s obsession (put mildly) are really not that much alike.
    The writer has much more freedom than the addict, whether they use it or not.
    So, having said that, now that I am an old man (agewise), I will just say everyone is different, and the stories about having to be a starving artist do not have to be true stories. Starving is a choice; writing is a passion. That is what I learned from experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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