Listen: Psychology of a Book Hangover

Have you lost touch with reality? You might be suffering from a book hangover

Photo by Yuri Efremov on Unsplash

Do you have a foggy mind? Is your heart racing? Mood darkening?

Have you lost touch with reality?

You might be suffering from a book hangover. Let’s take a look at what happens when we finish reading (or writing) a book.

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Show Notes

Do you have a foggy mind? Is your heart racing? Mood darkening?

Have you lost touch with reality?

You might be suffering from a book hangover. Let’s take a look at what happens when we finish reading (or writing) a book, especially when that book is the end of a world or series.

There are no more pages to turn. No more adventures to go on. The story is done, but that crash we feel is all consuming. You feel lost — how are you supposed to survive without your favorite characters?

We have all been there. It’s that crushing realization that we now have to go back to our reality. We can’t live in Narnia or go to Hogwarts any longer. It’s… over.

There’s some psychology behind it. The first, that crushing sadness we feel, is because we’ve lost something we’ve connected to. Something we’ve valued is no longer there for us to keep reading or writing. The issues raised are still present in our mind and we can’t shake that feeling.

Then, there’s the emotional transportation. The author has succeeded in making us feel. We found an escape from our reality. The present world falls away and we are transported into an emotion, a world, that we become so focused on. The flow state overcomes our senses and we forget our reality. We escape.

Escapism fiction isn’t uncommon. The purpose is to give a world to, well, escape into. We want to be transported, to feel as if we are walking around in the environment. We want to be those characters. We are those characters.

Then, suddenly, it’s gone. There are no more pages to turn. We’ve reached the end, and not just a “see you next week” or “next season”. It’s really gone. We can’t shake that feeling. We can’t pull ourselves out of the fog. We want that world back for the first time. We still remember every feeling, every up and down. It stays with us.

It’s perfectly normal, and sometimes that feeling goes away in a few days. Oftentimes it stays longer, which is because something within us has changed. We’ve grown, our minds have seen these emotions or issues in a new light, we’ve changed our soul because the character was so much like us. We saw ourselves in them, they went through the challenges we face, and they fought them. We saw ourselves fighting them too.

Writing hangovers are the exact same. We’ve become the characters, the world, because they are part of us. They came from our minds, from our creation. And it’s hard to say goodbye. We’ve lived it for so long, we’ve shared the thoughts of our characters, we’ve walked them through hell (and back). We did those things with them — all the emotions and fighting and growing and living. All within a book, standalone or series.

But sometimes those have to end too. The stories have been told for that world. A character moves on from us. But it’s still hard to let go. It’s hard to say goodbye to something that has been you for so long.

So what do we do? It’s not like we’ve ever read or written a book and said “welp, that’s it. I can’t go through another book hangover so I’m done.”

Of course not. It’s a craving for that same feeling, that same desire to do it again. We pick up another book. We sharpen our pencils and write the next story. We search for that high again. We find that story that gives us an escape, that puts us into a fictional world where reality around us melts away. It becomes part of us, and we learn again.

How are you going to recover? Find the next story.

Originally published at https://www.laura-winter.com on March 8, 2021.

Creator. Writer. Author. Join my tribe and learn about my fiction writing plus free stories. https://linktr.ee/authorlaurawinter

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