Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hard at Writing? (The obsession)

Time is precious. As I get older, a twenty-four hour day seems terribly inadequate. Why can’t I have thirty-six hours in a day, or better yet, a life-pause button that can stop precious seconds from frittering away?

Writing and time go hand in hand. Sometimes, I start writing on a Friday evening and only come out of sequester for nature breaks or snacks until late on Sunday. Okay, that’s not completely true . . . I can’t stand fur jackets on my teeth, so I also brush regularly. When I get tired, I pull the recline-lever on my writing chair, lay my head back and nap for an hour or two. I often awaken inspired by a dream, or some plot complexity percolates up from those hours of subliminal processing.
Hard at writing!
Do I have a life outside of writing? Of course, but priorities must be set lest my passion become destructive to people I love and others I care about.

Writing vertigo – that’s what I call it—a spiraling loss of balance centered around my passion for creating stories. It threatens relationships, pulls me away from my “day job” and leaves me grumpy about every day activities. I often lose track of topics in the middle of conversations when a plot device suddenly invades my thoughts.

“Thanks for thinking of me, but I just don’t have time.” I say that entirely too much when asked to participate in non-writing activities. Even my 45-year love of playing guitar waned recently as I dove deeper into half a dozen new manuscripts.

Does my love of writing teeter on some brink between high productivity and destructive obsession? Perhaps.

Balance is the theme of this blog. Writing can be very rewarding. It allows creative expression and provides the same escape from reality as our readers seek in our books. But, writing might also morph into an unhealthy obsession, harming other parts of our lives. Do you ignore your kids or spouse to write? Have you ever called in sick to gain time for writing? Will you interrupt your writing for exercise, to eat healthy or to take your dog for a walk?

How do we . . . do I . . . discover that elusive balance between productivity and unhealthy addiction?

Damned if I know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


  1. Can you become obsessed with writing? I don't think there's even a hint of doubt about the answer to that. It's an emphatic 'yes'.

    There are times when someone is talking to me and I'll miss chunks of the conversation because the next scene from my manuscript decided to rear its head at that moment. Some people consider it rude, but I can't turn off my imagination. It makes me who I am. It would be ruder to pull out a notepad and jot the idea down, so I wait patiently until I can find some privacy to transcribe it to a notepad, hoping I haven't lost the jist of it.

    I recently posted something quite similar to your blog post, Dean, on a writing site I frequent. I called it: "10 Things Which Make You a Writer". #9 was missing huge chunks of conversation. LOL. #1 was losing track of time and forgetting to eat or sleep.

    Finding the balance? Now there's a question I don't have an answer to. Program your Internet router to switch off after a certain time at night? LOL.

    Besides, you could be obsessed with a hell of a lot worse things. :)

    1. Dan, I'd love to read that list you mentioned. Would you mind providing the link?

      I completely agree about there being worse obsessions. My question is how others make that decision between writing and meeting life's other obligations. How much priority does the writing get?

      Thanks for commenting...Dean

    2. Here is the link to Dan's list, "Ten Things Which Make You a Writer":

  2. Making writing a priority is the only way it gets done. Yes, there are things that have a higher ranking, but writing has to be near the top or novels will never get finished and submitted--find a publisher.

    It has to be a focused drive, or an obsession, as there is no promise of success at the end, just a strong belief that it'll be strong enough to make the cut.

    1. So...writers are gamblers, feverishly slapping quarters into the literary slot machine, in hopes of a payoff. What is that payoff? Ego? Money? Sense of accomplishment? Okay, those work for me.

      Thanks Terry, as usual, for your enlightening thoughts...Dean


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