Is Writing an Obsession?

I'm obsessed with writingI’ve been writing full time for five years and part-time for four and the more I write, the more obsessed I become. I suppose I could use the word passionate to describe how I feel about writing, but lately the word obsession seems more accurate.

And what are the clues that tell me I’ve tipped into the obsession zone? Consider these:

  • While trying to fall asleep, I compose sentences. Worse, I often get up to write them down so I won’t lose the creative thought.
  • While on the subway, in a plane, or at a restaurant, I takes notes about the features, gestures, clothing, or other attributes of the people I see. Sometimes I record what they say, a flirtation glance, an awkward moment.
  • I never go out without my small notebook, just in case inspiration strikes in the sounds, smells, tastes and sights around me.
  • I am jealous when I discover a beautifully crafted phrase in another author’s work. Such discoveries can easily undermine the confidence I may have been feeling about my own writing.
  • I look at the world around me in terms of my fictional characters. How would Grace react? What would Helene think? How would Edward feel?
  • I get distracted by a plotline that isn’t working or a flawed character arc or a chapter that doesn’t flow. Such distraction can strike at any time – while I’m driving, or out with friends, on the golf course, or watching TV.
  • I worry that a newly released book by another author will steal my intended audience, but in the next moment exult in the possibility that the very same book will help build an audience for my kind of writing.
  • I frequently realize that the house is dark except for the light at my desk where I have been writing for hours and hours. This realization is often accompanied by feelings of hunger because I’ve missed dinner.
  • I no longer read books without underlining interesting phrases or jotting ideas for one of my novels, a future story or blog post. I do this even when reading an e-book.
  • I can happily research for hours in order to compose one or two sentences.

Obsession – something that preoccupies a person to the exclusion of other things. Hmmm – sounds like obsession to me. Or is this how all writers behave?

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


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15 Responses

  1. I’m like you in many of these, Mary. At the moment, I’m obsessed with character description. Some weeks ago I was at the library and spent a half hour writing down every creative way I could think of to describe the man who sat at the next table – his hair, clothes, face – in extreme detail.

  2. Yes, and sometimes I go out to lunch or coffee alone just so I can sit and people watch–noting how others are interacting–body language–and hopefully picking up their conversations for dialogue variations.

  3. I started writing my 1st book length manuscript in 1968 in my first creative writing class during my first year of college. I never stopped writing and in my third year of college, I changed my college major from architecture to journalism earning my BA in 1973, then an MFA in writing in the 1990s in addition to attending writing workshops for 7 years in the 1980s out of UCLA’s extension writing program driving more than a hundred miles round trip once a week.

    I think I’m obsessed. :o)

  4. All of those, Mary and so not interested in being de-sensitized from the obsession. The most positive thing about an obsession like this is the sharpened power of observation – without drugs! 😉

  5. Definitely. Contagious even via computers? May also be financially worthwhile to keep all your notes … even those written in the shower, as I see Kazuo Ishiguro has sold all his drafts and notes for a million dollars … but to do this one does have to become a best selling author. Dream on.

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