Great writers love pleasure, and they bathe themselves in luxury. They spoil themselves rotten, and they make no bones about it.

Do you have a weakness for chocolate truffles? Fried chicken? Pizza? Lobster? Deep fried macaroni and cheese? Red wine? Pate de fois gras? Cigarettes? Bubble baths? Single malt scotch whiskey? Cocaine? Chocolate chip cookies? These things and many others have been the downfall of countless great people. They have also brought endless pleasure to many others who managed to keep their intake at a manageable level.

Other forms of overindulgence include, but are not limited to, channel-surfing, web surfing, oversleeping, compulsive cleaning, arguing, eavesdropping, worrying, doing busy-work, checking e-mail, and a host of similar soul-eroding habits that deliver no pleasure whatsoever.

Overindulgence is dangerous to your writing not because it damages your body. A single line of cocaine, a single glass of beer, a single cigarette, and a single slice of key lime pie do no lasting damage to your body. However, all of these things can grow into habits, and all habits can kill you. Great writers don’t have any more willpower than anyone else. In fact, many have considerably less willpower.

There is no “secret” to mastering this. It’s an art form. The art of experiencing pleasure is arguably the single most important thing for a writer to learn. You don’t have to eat buffalo steak, you don’t have to learn to meditate while standing on your head, you don’t have to fast, you don’t have to pop pills, and you don’t have to shave your head.  You don’t have to do anything in particular. All that’s necessary is to fully experience what you do, and enjoy it completely.

This art takes a lifetime to master.

If you love ice cream, learn to cherish every bite of ice cream, and put it back in the freezer as soon as you realize you aren’t enjoying it that much. That is the secret to perfect indulgence; stop when you feel yourself starting to go numb. Delay gratification just long enough to make yourself long for the pleasure again. Experiment with delaying gratification for different periods of time. It’s an art.

You may notice that I didn’t mention sexual pleasure here. That was on purpose, because it’s just too damn complicated to get into on one page. But everything I said about the other stuff applies to sex as well.