The new diagnosis for the old disease that’s sweeping the world – one writer at a time.
There’s a very frustrating affliction that affects us wordy, creative types, one that over time gets us worrying about diagnoses like Schizophrenia or fevered Malaria or worst of all, the dreaded Writer’s Block. In recent conversations with writer friends, I’ve come to think there’s a diagnosis that could explain a lot of our subversive insanity.
I’m coining a new disease – Writophrenia!
It’s a subtle and seemingly complex condition featuring loads of denial, volumes of rationalization, and resulting in self-isolation and crippling self-doubt. How do I know? I’m a fellow sufferer. But as the old saying goes, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”
I want to make Brain Burgers a safe place for writers over the next few weeks, a place to unwind and open up about how Writophrenia has affected our lives and the lives of those around us. Readers might be interested in these little glimpses into a writer’s mind and perhaps develop a little understanding for the “suffering” of those of us who have one of the greatest jobs on earth.
I want to offer a brief description of the condition this week. Then we’ll move on and delve into the details, the twists and turns of the afflicted writer’s mind.
Keep in mind a guiding principle: One must be at least a little crazy to want to sit alone and write down stories of people and worlds and events that – until it’s in on their page – have existed only in their minds.
Here are just a few symptoms of Writerphrenia:
Talking too much about our story ideas.
We writers are creative, some of us cursed with story-a-minute minds. But talking too much about a story can have the negative effect of scratching the itch that makes us want to write it. Yet we do it anyway. Let’s discuss how to knock that off.
Starting and not finishing projects.
Having a great idea, a great scene, a great character, a great opening line – it’s all great, but what about finishing the thing we started? Nothing great has ever come from a half-done book. We need methods for finishing what we start – if we want to be Authors.
Worry over how “good” our work is.
Someone once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.” We’re afraid to suck at writing at first. We struggle against this monster in our own minds and it cripples our ability to actually write anything. How to get over this hurdle will be a big part of our little group.
Jealousy for other writers’ success is a natural – and unnecessary – pastime. I’ve indulged in this corrosive emotion myself and we can discuss it here to scrub it from our minds and enable healthy professional development.
Claiming Writer’s Block.
“Writer’s block” is an amateur’s affliction. Want to step into the Big Leagues? We’ll talk about what the block really is and how to stop giving it your precious energy.
Hiding from “Authentic Voice”.
There are a lot of risks to be taken in writing. Stripping away the influences and cliches and expressing your true, unique way of telling a story is the greatest risk of all. Let’s talk about how to step out and be willing to get hit by it, instead of hiding from it.
Ignoring classic story structures.
Every one of us wants to tell a “unique” story. Amateurs (I’ve been one myself) think we can bulldoze all the standards aside and tell it “our way”. Truth is, we have an obligation to know what story structure really is – and the education actually gives us more options and freedom, not less.
The first step is admitting we have a problem.
If you can identify yourself in these symptoms, please know that you’re not alone. I feel I can safely write about this stuff because I’ve been afflicted with Writophrenia and have overcome much – but certainly not all – of the symptoms to publish over a dozen books and stories. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t have some degree of Writophrenia.
I’m opening a Writophrenia clinic right here. If you like what you’ve seen so far and feel you can relate, come back for more group therapy. I’ll have the coffee pot on and the circle of chairs set. See you next week right here.
Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.
3 quick remedies for Writophrenia:
- An old-fashioned, finely sharpened yellow No. 2 to the frontal lobe.
- Publishing a flop [not considered a permanent cure for the severely afflicted].
- Bribe supportive Mom and Dad to tell beginning author their books are terrible, breaking the crucial delusion of future success.
SPREAD THE CONSPIRACY – GET “THE DELPHI DECEPTION: BOOK II OF THE DELPHI TRILOGY” NOW!