A Writer’s Obsession

I’m convinced all authors have a problem with obsessive behavior. Well, okay…not every single one. But from the many I’ve talked to I’d say the majority do.

Most of the time, that tendency toward obsessive behavior tends to help rather than hurt a writer. Manuscripts take a great deal of work that requires absolute attention to detail. For example, typos. It takes several readings to catch all those pesky typos, and even then, it’s amazing how many things get missed. I think about how many times people have read my books. My four critique partners, my agent, my editor, the copy editor, and there is always a typo or two that still pops up in the form of a missing word or a wrong 99probs  tense verb. Very frustrating, but again, a much less frequent occurrence for a detail-oriented author.

It’s a perception problem, actually. And while they psychology teacher in me could go into great detail why it happens so often, let’s just say we ignore the familiar. Considering the author wrote it, edited it, re-edited it, and probably re-re-edited it (at the least), the story is now very familiar to her, so much so she doesn’t really see everything that’s right in front of her.

On the other hand, the obsessive nature of writers can also be counterproductive. In my case, the problem is when I have books that are ranked as bestsellers. No matter what else I try to do, I have to keep checking! Has it risen a few steps? Then I can celebrate! Has it dropped? Then I need to weep! How many copies have a sold today? This week? All year? An entirely unhealthy thought process, especially since all my productivity at doing what I should be doing—writing!—comes to a dead halt.

I know I’m not alone because I’ve heard many authors make the same complaint. Now if only we could find a solution.

Some people say try more self-control. I believe I’m a woman with extraordinarily strong self-control, but I’m helpless against this demon. To keep myself from going back and simply refreshing tcupcakedhe page for three straight hours, I turn off my wi-fi. Then, and only then, can I focus on moving ahead with the next book instead of compulsively checking on the already published stories.

How about an app designed for authors that blocks that information? Nah. We’d just start screaming bloody murder and pitch the phone/laptop/tablet across the room. “I need to know, damn it!”

So…we’re stuck with having to police ourselves. I’m trying to look at this all from a positive point of view. I’m truly blessed that my books are selling well enough for me to have to check them all the time.

And for that, I’m very, very grateful!


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When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . .

After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change–with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.

Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix about anything, but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?



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A Writer’s Obsession — 6 Comments

  1. There are apps to keep you off line — if you have a Mac, you can use Freedom. It is supposed to work on PCs as well but I’ve not had much success with it. There are also apps on Chrome like StayFocused that will block your most distracting sites. There’s also the ability to disable my internet connection on my laptop. Trouble is I find myself grabbing my phone or my iPad. I need to lock myself in a room with no devices and no possible way of getting out to the net. I’ve often said to my hubby I want a room like Emma Thompson had in Stranger than Fiction. Completely empty with nothing to distract me. And I’d still find a way to procrastinate, LOL.

  2. I don’t see myself in this at all. *grin” After my latest went into production, my sister found errors in the ARC. Cringe. I’d read it hundreds of times. My editor had read it several times. The copy editor read it. My husband read it several times. And I’m sure even after correcting those last errors in the final copy, we missed some. This is why I can’t read my work after it’s published.

  3. I can be so obsessive and easily distracted. A bad combination, indeed. That obsession does serve me well in producing rather clean first drafts, so there’s that. :-)

    I have that Freedom app Leah mentioned and Write or Die. Both are helpful. I plan on spending a lot of time writing this summer. I think I’ll dig those apps out, dust them off and get some focused writing done. BTW my obsession is checking emails. Ugh!

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