person behind the wheel of a car

Driving While Under the Influence of Writing

 December 4, 2020

Hemingway is reputed to have said, write drunk, edit sober. From my experience with NaNoWriMo the past eight years, I’ve got a different take on this. Writing provides its own type of high, with unexpected dangers – hence, driving under the influence of writing!

Driving Under the Influence of Writing

I thought of this while driving home after writing in a local Panera for two hours a few weeks ago (before the shutdown). I was driving, but my head was somewhere else. Errands I had planned to run were left undone. No purchasing necessary groceries. Before I knew it, I was home but not sure how I got there. I had been driving under the influence of writing!

There is something about the intense focus of writing that leaves me exhausted and out of whack. That’s why I like to go for a walk after a writing stint to clear my head. The characters and story lines stay with me throughout the day and night. I can’t turn them off.

NaNoWriMo Hangover

Part of the fun of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is becoming lost in the story. All month while living my daily existence, I’m also living in a world of my own making. It’s intoxicating.

Now that I have my 50,000 words and November is over. I’m experiencing a hangover. I look at all of the things I ordinarily do each month but either forgot to do or did wrong while immersed in my novel. I’ve gotten late charges—impossible! I always pay my bills on time! But not during NaNoWriMo. I write down wrong dates on my calendar or miss appointments entirely. Can’t be.

I suspect the same can be said for anyone working on an intense creative project. So maybe it should be Driving Under the Influence of Creativity.

What’s a Writer to Do?

Maybe there should be a new ticket-able offense – DUIW or DUIC. But then, how would a police officer know the reason for your erratic driving? A breathalyzer would come back negative for alcohol. There are currently gadgets available for cars that will prevent the car from running if high levels of alcohol are detected. Could a comparable device be created to keep people from operating a car while under the influence of writing or creativity or excessive stress or lack of sleep?

Until such time or there are self-driving cars available, it is up to us to monitor our own behavior. Snap out of it! Clear your head! Say goodbye to beloved characters before getting into your car! Your loved ones will thank you, as will your characters for you will live to write another day.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced driving while under the influence of writing or creativity? I would love to hear from you!

Other posts on NaNoWriMo – There is no Failing NaNoWriMo, Ready, Set, Stop – NaNoWriMo is what you make it, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – NaNoWriMo.


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