Cacaoethes Scribendi

[Originally posted on my previous website, michael dot sirois dot com]

It’s a Latin phrase, meaning an insatiable desire to write. Cacoethes can be translated as either a bad habit or a malignant disease.

The phrase originally comes from a line in Juvenal’s Satires, “Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes,” which translates as something like “the incurable desire for writing affects many.”

Cacoethes Scribendi is also a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Guess what it’s about!

So, can one be a professional writer without cacoethes scribendi, without the feeling of needing to write? I find I go through long stretches where the desire to write is very strong, but I also go through periods where modern distractions pull me in a dozen different directions. If I can’t focus on my writing, I really can’t get anything done.

“Lack of focus is the novel killer.” Michael Sirois, 2012.

When you find your attention drifting away from a project, what do you do to pull yourself back into focus?


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