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Monday, July 25, 2011

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER

Obsessive compulsive disorder. It's the writer's curse.

Ever wonder what people think about us? Non-writers, that is.

I mean I get it when I'm talking with other writers. We'll talk about our WIPs, scenes, plotting, querying agents or editors, submitting manuscripts, entering contests. We understand and go through the same emotional roller coaster of ups and downs. But to somebody who doesn't write for a living, do they understand our obsessive compulsive behavior?

If you're anything like me, the moment I've decided to enter a contest, for example, I start obsessing. Second guessing myself. Did I send the right manuscript? Did I enter the right category/genre? Was I supposed to send a synopsis with that submission? How many pages was that again? Or worst of all, did I remember to format that sucker correctly?

Same thing happens when sending out submissions to agents and/or publishing houses. I go back and fret over those same questions. Always after I've hit the SEND button I will inevitably find something I forgot to do or include or explain that probably really needed to be there. Too little, too late.

Don't even get me started on reviews when a new book is released.

Then there are backups. How often do we make sure we backup what we're writing? It can go onto a CD, onto a flash drive, a thumb drive, get sent to an external hard drive, e-mailed to a different e-mail address, copied onto a laptop or netbook and even printed out. I've heard so many horror stories about people losing entire books they've written that this is another area of obsessive compulsive disorder I've acquired since starting writing. When I'm finished with a writing session, kablam, there's the backup. Done and done.

Are any of you like that? Are you a card-carrying member of the writer's OCD guild? If so, welcome to my world.

24 comments:

Wynter Daniels said...

OMG! You just described me to a T! I've been checking my email like crazy this week, waiting for a cover for my next book!

Rita said...

Mine is in edits. I can obsess over word usage and placement in a sentence. Action and reaction. Will my use of body language be clear to the reader or do I need to explain? Grrrr!

Shirley Wells said...

OMG, that's me. You should have seen me refreshing the Carina website every 5 minutes until I saw my August release up there.

I use Dropbox for backups so I know I can access those files from any computer. However, I spend half my life checking that the 'right' files are there.

So glad I'm not alone. :)

Toni Anderson said...

Oh boy--you mean there are people who aren't like us? LOL. I am so OCD. And I don't understand that I can do all this and still mess up. I mean really?

MaureenAMiller said...

That is a really good point, Kathy. I have backups all over the place. And I am a big "fretter". I fret about everything. :)

Kathy Ivan said...

Wynter, Rita, Shirley, Toni and Maureen: Thanks, ladies. So happy I'm not alone in my neuroses!

I think it's just part of our writer's makeup that we obsess about things. We need every single word we put on the page to be exactly right, so it's not surprising we are so attuned to other aspects of anything pertaining to writing.

And Maureen, I think "fret" sounds so much healthier and saner than saying I go total bat crazy with my OCD about things. Sounds like such a nice Southern word -- fret.

JB Lynn said...

LOL. I'm currently out on sub, so my OCD manifests itself in the form of checking my email every other minute.

Liz Lipperman said...

Like Rita, mine is in the edits. The only good thing is that when I finally finish a manuscript--and I am pathetically slow--it's usually in pretty good shape.

Should we form a twelve-step program?

Jo Davis said...

Kathy,
Great post! I'm obsessive about backing up--I literally hit the "save" icon after each paragraph or dialogue run! I've had my computer go out or re-boot to do updates and have lost pages, so now I constantly save. At the end of the day, I save to my thumb drive and email myself a copy of the mss as well. Losing my hard work is my biggest fear.

I also will catch myself going over the same page over and over, obsessing about the wording. I have to force myself to move on!

Happy Monday!

VICKI BATMAN said...

Second guessing or OCD? I dunno.

I'm a compulsive reviewer/editor of my work. I go over and over and over.

And my last query? I thought so-so, but maybe it wasn't???

Golly, excellent topic

Janis Susan May said...

You mean everyone isn't like that? I thought that was normal...

Wendy Soliman said...

Another writer I know once said you enjoyed talking to other people at the Historical Novel Society because they could discuss at length what a medieval knight wore under his armour without being considered weird. I guess she has a point!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Oh Kathy. It's like you live in my house... My worst "fret" is checking my email compulsively. Not healthy. Not healthy at all...

Phyllis said...

So that is what they call it....lol. For me it is the backups to everything! I should hsve that same obsession over edits...((grins))

Kathy Ivan said...

JB, Liz, and Jo

Thanks for the comments. Although, Liz, do you think Twelve Steps would be enough? LOL

I'm a compulsive saver too! I hit same about every couple of paragraphs, because my computer has a habit of rebooting itself while I'm right in thet midst of juicy dialogue.

Kathy Ivan said...

Vicki, Janis

Yep, I always feel this is the norm until I'm talking to a non-writer friend and they look at me as if I've suddenly grown 2 heads!

Kathy Ivan said...

Wendy, Marcelle and Phyllis

See I knew I wasn't the only one out there who acted like this!

Thanks ladies for dropping by.

Kathy Ivan said...

And checking e-mail--OMG I constantly check e-mail all day long. If I'm at the computer, I'm looking at e-mail. Glad to know it's not just me. :-)

Elise Warner said...

Comment from best friend last night. Writing is really important to you, isn't it? Great topic, Kathy.

Clare London said...

Heavens, that's a frightening picture of the person I see in the mirror each morning LOL. This is what holds up so many of my WIPs - I'm always bickering with myself (myself!! *rolls eyes*) about editing and re-editing any work already done.

And *lol* yes, "fret" is much nicer than "obsess" :).

Nancy said...

Kathy, LOVE this post!!

I'm in Club OCD, too, but I'm in great company. (Hey, there's always an up side. :))

So wait. If the majority of writers are like this, then we're normal, right?

Light,
Nancy Haddock

Kathy Ivan said...

Elise and Clare: I know, its scary to see that person in the mirror every day, right? But look at it this way, if we're all seeing her, that makes it normal. :-)

I'm an obsessive editor, too. It's just never quite right, and if I change just one more word . . .

Kathy Ivan said...

Nancy, my dear, how are you? Thanks so much for dropping by.

I always feel like the things I do are perfectly normal; until I find out that nobody else does it like that. Then I'm like -- okay whatever works for you. But this is MY way and it works for me. :-)

Jane said...

I can totally relate to this! You have described me to a tee. I have had OCD for a while now and one thing that has helped me keep it in check are the techniques on http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-ocd. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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