How To Get Obsessed

Writing, like so many creative endeavors, is a strange gig. We writers do everything we can to avoid working on our projects, but then when we finally get to it, we don’t want to stop. While in many arenas, obsession is not considered a good thing, we creatives tend to cultivate it. I’ve recently written about the strange paradox that the more you do of something, the more you want to do and can do.  Which leads to…dum dum de dum….obsession. So here’s a handy guide on how to make it happen. (And let it be known, I’m talking about the good kind of obsession here.)

How to Get Obsessed

Make a commitment to your work and then follow through on it. I know no better way than this to get obsessed. Go to the page every day, or as often as you can, and you’ll find yourself gaining momentum.  So often, you find what you need in the writing itself. You may not think you know where the scene is going, but once you start writing, it shows you. But you won’t find it if you don’t sit down to the page. So do it, even when you aren’t inspired. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself obsessed. You’ll be thinking about your work all the time.  Using every few spare minutes to work on it. Coming up with brilliant ideas right and left.

Why You Want To

Because there is no better feeling on earth than that which you get from working steadily on a creative project. Have you ever focused intently on your writing, and after your session felt like you were in love with everything in the world? That’s the writer’s high that you get when you’ve got momentum in your work. When I’m on a roll like this, everything in my life works better. I smile at the cranky grocery store check-out clerk and let all the negativities of the day slide off me.  All the things on my to-do list get done–because I’m so happy I don’t mind doing them.

How to Get Un-obsessed

Okay, honestly, being obsessed with your work all the time is not the best state of being. For a couple of reasons: first, you need to get out from behind the computer to experience life so that you have second to write about. (In other words, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Or Jackie a dull girl.) And second, that old myth about the tortured writing staying up all night to work ends up with said writer collapsing and then not being able to write for another month. So the key is to get a steady burn going. Step by step we travel far, as my Mom always said.

It’s a good idea to take breaks often. And by breaks I mean intentional breaks. Not lollygagging across the internet, but doing an activity that means something to do you. That will refresh you. And for God’s sake get up from you chair and walk and stretch once in awhile. (Which I have a difficult time with, partly because of pain in my knee.)

And also, know that at some point, your obsession will end. It just will. That’s part of the creative cycle. You can’t go full out all the time, and nor do you want to (see first paragraph in this section.) If you’ve suddenly lost the urge to write, maybe your brain just needs a break. Listen to it and give it one.

Are you obsessed with your writing? Leave a comment or discuss on the Facebook page.

Photo from everystockphoto.

Write Yourself A Mantra

Do you obsess?

I obsess.

What do I obsess about?

Well, let me list the topics: weight loss body image, earning money, my novel, getting an agent, relationships, working harder, working less, focus, the price of tea in China…you get the drift.  Pretty much everything.

When I obsess, my mind runs away from me.  That is the nature of the beast.  Obsession is a thought process, one that is often circular.  I begin obsessing, realize I'm doing it, vow not to, and then my mind is off and running on the object of my obsession again.

I tell myself I'll no longer obsess, but then I find myself in the middle of an obsessive mind swing yet again.

All this obsessiveness is not particularly useful for getting work done.  Or being a productive writer. Or being a happy human being.  So I've come up with a way to battle it.


Not, "ohm," but a sentence that I say when I catch myself obsessing.  For instance, "I am so happy and grateful that I now have a wonderful equal working relationship with my right and perfect agent who does an outstanding job of representing me and selling my books."

Repeat that five times quickly.

Kidding.  That particular mantra is a wordy one.  You can make them much simpler.  And you should.  Because the thing is, mantra work to nip obsessiveness in the bud, and they are the only thing, besides meditation (groan), that work. 

You can easily write one of your own.  Here's how:

1.  Decide on the object of your obsession.  (This shouldn't be hard, since you probably think about it constantly.)

2.  Think about how you would feel if the obsession was satisfied.  (This is the happy and grateful part of the mantra above.)

3.  Describe the what in detail.  (Such as, I've lost ten pounds, or I now have a thriving writing career.)

4.  Put it all together.  (I am so happy and grateful that I've now lost ten pounds.)

Couldn't be easier!  Now that you have your mantra written, get yourself in the habit of saying it every time you start wringing your mental hands about your lack of progress losing that weight.  It helps to repeat it a lot at first, or even write it down over and over again.

A couple cautions.  You can't do this to control the actions of other people.  So, if the object of your obsession is a person you are in love with, the mantra is not going to pull him or her to you.  Sorry.   And, this is just my way of putting together a mantra.  I've not studied it, so there could be other, way better, ways.  If so let me know, okay?

Do any of you have luck using mantras?