Moderation? No thanks, I’m trying to cut down

needle on a recordSir Edmund Hillary was clearly a climbing addict. And how addicted to maths were Archimedes and Ptolemy and all who’ve followed their lead, to come up with the endless version of Pi?

Artists, musicians, astronomers – they all display the sort of obsessive behaviour we call addiction yet in them, we don’t see a problem that needs solving. We are so used to seeing addiction as a bad thing that we’ve forgotten how positive such commitment to a cause can be. If we can just overcome moderation …

It’s really important I indulge my addiction right now. It’s how I get things done. If I don’t run at something like Lindsay Lohan into a bar after rehab, not enough happens.

My addiction is writing fiction but my desire to feed it is woefully crushed by prolonged crappy weather. The longer the winter goes on, the more likely it is that SAD will kick in. That’s when I’m stuffed. The misery begets lethargy which breeds apathy, which sends me listlessly to iPad word games when my paid work is done. Playing these games is OK, but I know I should be wanting to work on my next chapter.

Where is the burning need for my next fix? Usually, writing is all I want to do in my spare time. I’m up at 5am writing, I carry my laptop everywhere. That is not the case right now. I’m suffering from a dreadful bout of moderation and it’s killing my addiction.

A tantalising taste of spring last week has since been buried beneath a snow storm blowing down from Siberia. I’m afraid I don’t give a toss about the Russians celebrating an unseasonably warm -2. I desperately need to shrug off this nauseating moderation and get my mojo back. I miss it; I’m just not me without it. Spring would definitely help. Even proper daylight would be a start.

I don’t see addiction as necessarily a bad thing – we’re all addicts in some shape or ideology. One person’s Eastenders is another’s smoke. The compulsion to carve out a habitual groove is human at a molecular level. It’s in our bones to actually enjoy being a bit of a stuck record. The things we do over and over again make us who we are, shape our homes, identities and lives. It is thanks to addictive compulsions that we have film, space travel and cures for cancer. Without such progressions we would cease to evolve.

gaming-addiction-by-tasimmet-jpgAddiction is definitely not uniquely a physical manifestation of chemical longing; for falling in love, drinking coffee, sniffing cocaine or running. It’s also a philosophical conundrum that fuels our natural cycles and energises our psyches. It’s not that we all crave being addicted to something, rather that we crave addiction itself. We love to flirt with our addictions, don’t we? We’re right in the middle of Lent. People all over the world are depriving themselves of something they are addicted to, in some degree, before inevitably gorging on that very forbidden fruit when it’s over. Chocolate and wine are the two most common things given up briefly by my friends. And Facebook.

I’m not trying to be flippant; obviously there are many worse addictions than those listed above. Of all the possible options, surely food is the worst. Chemical addictions can be overcome, albeit sometimes with great difficulty, through abstinence. But we can’t live without food, so giving it up is hardly a cure. Anorexia is as much a food addiction as compulsive eating. It is possible to both eat and starve ourselves to death and those unfortunate enough to battle either extreme must face their nemesis at every meal time. There’s no twelve steps programme for food addicts, they can’t stay clean, it’s impossible. Moderation for them is the only way out.

Whereas I have to tackle my moderation as soon as possible if I stand a chance of making my June deadline for book 2, draft 1. As I can’t rely on the British spring to put the obsessive glint back in my eyes, and get me over this ridiculous need for sleep and keeping normal hours, perhaps I need a reverse twelve steps leaflet: Overcoming moderation. The road back to addiction. I’ll write that first. That ought to do it.

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About Sally Nursten

Writer. Mother. Lover of life and all its twisty-turny ways.
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