I have ideas for novels and works of art, but very little of it ever gets down on paper. Mostly, after work I’m too tired to do anything but watch TV. I see other people who have published novels and wish I could do the same thing, but then negative thoughts set in: Whatever I write will get rejected, I’m not talented enough, etc. How can I motivate myself? Anytime I think about sitting down to write, I feel overwhelmed. -Help!

It’s probably a cliché (perhaps this makes me a poor writing coach), but the way to be a writer is to write. You simply need to start with a word, and then a sentence and then a paragraph. Sometimes by simply forcing the action instead of battling the negative thoughts, you can “fake it till you make it” (another cliché!) and change your thoughts via your behavior.

If fatigue is a problem after work, make small changes in your schedule — get fresh air in the evenings, try to write during your lunch hour — to make it easier to succeed. It’s common to be plagued by self-doubt in the process of writing, but you did just write an email to me. And that’s a start!

‘Decompressing’ Or Drug Addict?

My boyfriend occasionally takes Vicodin to decompress. He’s not a big drinker or pot smoker, so I always thought if this is his thing, so be it. Lately, I’ve been hearing more about prescription drug problems and I’m starting to wonder whether I should be concerned. I’m too scared to ask anyone I know about this! -Curious

What’s “occasionally?” How much Vicodin? And what does “decompress” really mean? The biggest problem with painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet is that they can quickly become habit-forming, even if the original intention was once-in-a-blue-moon recreational usage. And when increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms set in, you can be easily trapped in the hell of needing more Vicodin just to feel halfway OK. So, yes, I’d say it’s understandable to be concerned. How much so depends on a lot of variables that I don’t yet know and you might not either.

Are some people more prone to addiction than others? Certainly. But, arguably, there are healthier ways to decompress. And if you’re scared to bring up your concerns to him, that’s a whole other problem as I see it.