Two years sugar free

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve this year, I will be celebrating 730 days since I quit sugar.

Two years sugar free.

Can you even imagine that?

When I think back to the person I was two years ago, there’s no way I could have imagined I’d go two meals without sugar, let alone two years.

In other posts I talk about the benefits of quitting sugar, what ‘Quitting Sugar’ actually means , my number one tip for quitting sugar, and why I’m sure you can quit sugar too. I’ve also come up with my Quitting Sugar Tip Sheet which I’d love to email you – just sign up in the side bar and I’ll send it to you!

But today I’m talking about the major surprise that came from quitting sugar. A side benefit. An unexpected and very welcome bonus.

Quitting sugar made me a better writer.


Writers have one job.

What is a writer’s job, anyway?

This is always the first question I ask when I teach a writing class. And I get a whole variety of answers — a writer’s job is: to entertain, to thrill or scare or intrigue or engage or grab the reader from the first sentence and not let go!

Well…kind of.
But really, the writer has just one job.
And that is…… to convey emotion.

Yup. That’s it. One job.

I write fiction. My job is to convey emotion, from me, to my readers, through my story.

Sugar, that great emotion stuffer

Eating sugar was my way of dealing with too many emotions, or uncomfortable emotions.

But if I’m stuffing my emotions down with sugar before they even come up, how can I do my job (of conveying emotion to my readers) well?

How can I fill my writing with emotional truth if I routinely short circuit my own emotions?

How can I explore the emotional worlds of my characters when my own emotions are weighted down with half a batch of raw chocolate chip cookie dough?

How can I meaningfully write about strong emotions, if feeling them devastates me to the point that I need to numb myself?

Right. I can’t.

If you’d asked me when I was mainlining sugar, I would have told you I was highly emotionally attuned. Highly sensitive. And that that sensitivity made me a good writer.

I would have told you that anything that got between me and the full on inhabiting of an emotion — mine, or someone else’s, I wasn’t fussy — would be a detriment to my craft. I need to feel everything to write about it. (And I need to eat all the sugar, to recover from feeling all the things. And, when it all got to much, just shorten the whole loop and go straight to eating the sweets.)

That’s what I would have said.

Quitting sugar has made me much more attuned to my own emotions in the moment, and aware of what’s mine and what belongs to another.

There’s now a split second pause between being aware of an emotion and feeling it. And it’s the curiosity within that pause that has helped my writing.

What is this feeling?
What is it called?
What else is it called?
What does it make me want to do?
Where do I feel it in my body?
When else have I felt this?
What led me to feeling this?
What can I say or do to help myself or someone else right now?
(Or, in the case of some of my characters, what would be the exact wrong thing to say in this situation?)

In quitting sugar and navigating the discomfort of the cravings, I’ve become so much more comfortable in so many more situations. I now get curious, instead of overwhelmed.

Curiosity leads to noticing details.

And details lead to specificity, which always makes for better writing.
Curiosity also leads to capturing a moment more accurately through description. And better description makes for livelier writing.

Quitting sugar reawakened my natural curiosity. And curiosity has made me a better writer.

Curiosity leads to me to places in my writing I never would have dared to explore, back when my one and only tool was a ramekin full of milk chocolate chips.

Are you quitting sugar? Or have you already?
Have you noticed a difference in your emotions? In your creative process? Let me know in the comments!

Want to know my top tips for quitting sugar? Sign up in the side bar to receive your free Sugar Free Tip Sheet!

Read more posts about going sugar free.