The 12 Step Program for Writers Addicted To Writing by Catharine Bramkamp

Addicted DonutsLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “The 12 Step Program for Writers Addicted To Writing.” Enjoy!


You are a real writer, that’s why you stopped at this title. You persist. Real writers write despite nagging questions about the mortgage, food and what to do with the children this weekend. And you still write. So where is our international support group? Not a critique group – not a writers reading group, we already belong to those. What I would like to see is a more sensible group, based on the real challenges and essential character of a writer.

Writers Anonymous.

Here is what happened at the first meeting.

A number of attendees fought for the job of newsletter editor because they could count it on their list of publications. Five volunteered to take on social media so they could practice on something that was not as important as their own book. And despite evidence to the contrary three offered to design the logo, because how hard could it be?

Those thorny questions resolved, the next order of business was to recite the 12 steps for Writers that promotes health, enlightenment and well being.

To save you the drive and parking – here are the 12 steps that make up the heart of the Writers Anonymous program: 

  1. We admit we are powerless over the compulsion to write. We know that without writing our lives would not only be unmanageable, but unimaginative as well. That without some kind of writing we would bore family members to death with musings that are better confined to the hard drive. We admit that even if it means waking at 5:00 AM in the morning because that’s the only time we have, perfecting the English language is worth every blurry, coffee stained minute.
  1. We believe that the Muse who is greater than ourselves can restore our creativity and our sanity if we listen and show up.
  1. We made a decision long ago to turn our will and our lives over the to care of the Muse as we understand her. By following her guidance, we accept our true inner genre and characters.
  1. We will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. We will admit that our novel is boring, our How-To, inadequate, or Web site a tangle of broken links. We know that the only way to fix any of this is evaluate the strengths of our work, get an outside opinion then promise, promise! to revise.
  1. Admit to our Muse, to ourselves and to another human being, preferable another writer since we know no one else wants to hear about this, the exact nature of wrongly used plot points, beats, metaphors and many other grammarly things that we forgot about in the heat of the story.
  1. We are entirely ready to have the Editor remove all the defects of our syntax without blame or self-aggravation. We will accept the changes from on high with grace and maturity. We will promise ourselves that this graciousness will lead to eventual publication, otherwise, frankly, the pain is not worth it.
  1. We humbly ask the Muse to remove our shortcomings and our overly long Faulknerian sentences.
  1. We promise to make that list of all people we have misrepresented in the name of creative license, and be willing to make amends to them all as soon as we become a best selling author, but not until then, because who would know? We will also eventually forgive our parents for not leading a more adventurous life or indulging in more dysfunctional relationships. We have come to realize we need to write from our own inner strengths and yes, imagination.
  1. We will eventually make direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. We will not write apology notes to former editors because they had to read and rejected our early attempts at humor. And we will not send out our successful how-to book to those same stick-in-the-muds who didn’t see genius when it floated across their desks. We will not send nasty e-mails to agents who asked us, at the last writer’s conference “I’m only looking for Tom Clancy, are you Tom Clancy?” We will resist. We will be mature.
  1. We will continually take character inventory. Are they two-dimensional? Do the names of four minor characters all begin with the letter D? Are they really stereotypes? When the character development is wrong, promptly admit it and correct it.
  1. We vow to seek, through prayer and medication, to improve our conscious contact with the Muse as we understand her. We ask only for the inspiration and knowledge that the Muse chooses to deliver. We will not ask what she is wearing.
  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will strive to carry this message to other writers and to practice these principles in all our workshops and seminars. Because despite all obstacles, we won’t stop attending workshops and seminars. We know we are incapable of resisting the latest writing book. We understand we can’t stop compulsively scribbling on scraps of paper while waiting in line at the bank. There is too much joy in discovering the right word, the perfect turn of phrase. There is too much satisfaction in finishing an essay or a book chapter. It is just too awesome to see our work in print.

No member of Writers Anonymous leaves the building cured. No one wants to. Join us.



Catharine Bramkamp, authorPopular author/award winning poet/ podcaster/ champion of Newbie Writers everywhere.

Catharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, The Future Girls series (Eternal Press) and editor of the Redwood poetry collection, And the Beats Go On. She holds two degrees in English, and is an adjunct university professor.

A California native, she divides her time between the Wine Country and the Gold Country.

She and her husband have parented two boys past the age of self-destruction and into the age of annoying two word text missives.


Where you can find Catharine:

Web site:

Web site/blog

Twitter: @cbramkamp




The Newbie Writers Podcast – iTunes and


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  • Beth Barany says:

    Catharine! Thank you for your contribution to WFZ!! Loved it! Sign me up. 🙂 I especially liked number 8.

  • Dyson says:

    If you’re stressed or your health is suffering, the urge to create disappears. If you’re a writer sinking into the peat bog of insanity, perhaps it’s time to put your writing life through the 12 Steps for Addicted Writers.

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