Quitting smoking (the easiest but still hard way) for writers

Quitting smoking is not easy. It sucks. There are some books out there (I won’t name names) that tell you they have an easy way to quit. Of course they sell millions of copies, but I think they are bunk. Quitting is hard. I read a book on quitting that claimed  there is no reason to smoke, that cigarettes don’t do anything for you. That’s bullshit. If that was true nobody would start. Period.


Cigarettes make you mentally alert. They help you focus. And I am saying that they do so beyond just the “fix for the craving” part. Yes, once you are hooked not having a cigarette feels distracting, it’s hard to focus. But anyone who has ever worked with there brain knows that smoking while writing, or thinking gives your brain a boost. Sorry, but that is just the truth.

I was talking with a fellow writer yesterday, “It helps you concentrate,” he said. “It’s like pushing a little button,” I said. “Yes, it is . . .” he agreed. And then we both stared sadly off in the distance.

That is why a lot of the smartest people I know smoke. Pretty much all the writers I know smoke. It is brain candy. Of course the boost in focus it gives you is not really worth the fact that it will kill you slowly and painfully, and that is just the start of a long list of negative things it will do to you.

I just want to clear up the BS that nicotine does nothing positive. That is a lie. But I also haven’t had a cigarette in two months. And I am confident that I am going to be able to keep writing, and thinking, and being creative. There are other ways to to boost your focus and mental clarity. I won’t list them all here because that would take forever— but the easiest and most obvious way to boost your mental clarity? Simple, it’s get some exercise. As far as brainpower goes, getting some exercise is the easy, low hanging fruit. Go for a walk, or a run. It gets blood flowing to the brain, and works just as well as nicotine. Yeah, it isn’t as lazy as lighting up, it takes more effort . . . it’s also good for your body not just your mind so it evens out.

One last thing: here is the easiest way to quit smoking that I have found (I have tried them all.) Divorce the physical from the psychological. Cigarettes are addictive on two levels:

1. There is the psychological addiction: that is the habit part. You smoke because you are used to it. You have practiced thousands of times. The same little ritual over and over.

2. The physical addiction: this is the actual chemical withdrawal that happens.

You can’t make it easy, you are going to have to take you lumps. But you can at least take your lumps in two separate halves. What I recommend is taking you nicotine in  a surrogate form for a month (or however long it takes). That means using nicotine gum, or patches, vaping, whatever there are a bunch of methods. What worked for me is Snus, it’s a Swedish invention of a little tea bag of snuff that you put in your mouth for 20 minutes or so. It takes care of the chemical addiction. What I liked about Snus is that at $5 a can it is a whole lot cheaper than the gum, the patch and other methods. (Be careful not to end up just addicted to nicotine in a different drug . . .the trick is to quit before you become psychologically addicted to the new form or habit of ingestion)


Using Snus you are able to tackle the psychological habit all on it’s own. It’s just a habit after all, like brushing your teeth, or making your bed. After a few weeks all that’s left is the chemical dependency. Which . . . isn’t fun, but it is what it is.

One last tip. Remember to go outside. Just go stand outside. Or better yet go for a walk. Get the blood flowing. As a smoker I always thought that was the one thing that smokers got that nonsmokers did not: getting to just stand around outside for a few minutes every day. That’s the best part! Of course you don’t have to light a little stick of dry plant matter and stick it in your mouth to go stand outside! We just need to remember that! Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go for a long walk.

3 Comments on “Quitting smoking (the easiest but still hard way) for writers

  1. I was once able to stop smoking for a 1 year and 6 months. My secret to quitting smoking at that time was this: Every time I had the urge to smoke, I would go in the closet and take a couple of hits off the bong. I had young children in the home. We all became quite more creative with this method. But my daughter said many years later…….We were always being creative, you were just using that as an excuse to smoke some weed. Well, it worked for me, and I think I should make another attempt in the near future. This was back in the late 70’s. So, I gave my lungs a nice break. Now, I am in a new century and still smoking, but I do not smoke in my home. After I had returned to smoking after my smoke-free extended break, while writing; I was getting back up to two packs a day….not good. And learning the damage that second hand smoke can cause others, well….I did not want my children or future grandchildren to suffer because I was an addict to nicotene; so I made the conscious decision that I would no longer smoke in my home. One of the best things I have done. Not only do I smoke a lot less, but my home smells nicer and my hair smells much better as well as my clothes. During winter season, I rarely smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day. But, yet…..everyone still bitches about my smoking. Oh well….as a wise gentleman had told my daughter and son-in law~~~We all have to die of something. Leave her alone~~~Thank you, Fred…you are my good buddy. I think I will make the attempt again when I buy a pound of weed. btw….Governor Cuomo; why don’t you just leagalize weed altogether. I bet your dad would have. He was a very wise man. You should be so lucky to have the wisdom that he had. You are learning though…hugs to all.

  2. Dear Anthony,

    I’ve been a journalist for 20 years and im now starting my writer career (first book will be published this year). I am trying to quit cigarettes but I feel this hurts my writing/creativity. Have you managed to keep up with your writing after you quit cigarettes? Was this a difficult struggle? The base question will be: do you feel that stop smoking interfered with the quality of your writing? If so, how did you overcame that?

    This seems a silly question but I will be very thankful if you take the time to answer.

    all the best

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