The value of self abuse – it improves your writing and your eyesight
HOW do you seek inspiration to write? A cigarette? A drink. Something a little less legal? What about masturbation? Gustave Flaubert caught syphilis in Constantinople. Prostitutes were once a passion. Could anything else do?
Flaubert renounced masturbation in 1844, when he was 22, but apparently the ban didn’t last long. Four years later, while struggling with the novel The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Flaubert wrote to a close friend, “There are moments when my head bursts with the bloody pains I’m taking over this. Out of sheer frustration I jerked off yesterday, feeling the same bleakness that drove me to masturbate at school, when I sat in detention.” If Flaubert was driven to masturbation by boredom and despair, Balzac used it to further intensify his coffee-fueled writing binges. According to a 2010 Harper’s article (subscription required), the novelist would “masturbate to the very edge of orgasm, but not over, and that state—agitated, excited to the point of near madness—was Balzac’s sweet spot, in terms of composing. ” …
Other writers took the exact opposite point of view. John Cheever, for instance, placed a high value on the salutary effects of erotic release. He thought that his constitution required at least “two or three orgasms a week,” and he believed that sexual stimulation improved his concentration and even his eyesight: “With a stiff prick I can read the small print in prayer books but with a limp prick I can barely read newspaper headlines.”