As writers, we work like to fiends to get everything done.
We read every book and blog we can get our hands on, and push ourselves to the limit to finish our project.
Always promising to do all the things we’ve set aside later when it’s all finished.
Unfortunately, we’re never truly done.
There’s always the next step or another project waiting in the sidelines.
This can lead to a vicious cycle of obsession and overwhelm, as we push ourselves to do whatever it takes to achieve our dreams.
Resulting in burnout, damaged relationships or heath, and feeling like a failure when we no longer can bring ourselves to write.
So, how do you know when your writing has slipped into the darker side of obsession?
Signs Your Writing Has Become an Obsession
- You work your fingers to the bone. After all, that’s what writers do, right? And if you don’t, you don’t deserve to be published. The only way to earn the right is to spend every moment writing. No matter how tired you get, or the fact you have a family and a full-time job.
- You stop spending time with family and friends. You stop going out. You might even stop talking to each other because all it does is waste your writing time. Leaving them hurt, confused, and possibly even angry. Not that you’re likely to notice.
- Any conversations you do have become writing-related. You can’t stop talking about your story. You use the time to bounce ideas off your family and friends. Anything to ensure the time wasn’t wasted. Annoying the crap out of them because they have things to talk about to and they can’t get a word in.
- You stop setting time aside for yourself to relax or have fun. You just don’t have the time for such trivial things. There’s work to be done, and you can’t let your attention waver from your goal for even a second. You might even go to the extreme of not reading. Which ultimately can hurt your writing because you’re stopping the inflow of ideas. All of this can lead to a stressed and overwhelmed mind, which eventually will affect your health.
- Your mind has trouble relaxing and falling asleep as your mind won’t stop racing with anxiety about your writing project. There’s so much to do, and it seems like you’ll never be done. You continuously run the steps through your mind to assess your progress. Add that to the influx of ideas, and you’re looking at a sleep-deprived mind and possibly even insomnia.
- The success of others leaves you jealous, angry, or depressed. You’re working your butt off and not getting anywhere. Whereas they make it look easy. Why’s it so hard for you? Why haven’t reached that level of success yet? So you work even harder. But the harder you work, the more you resent the fact you haven’t made it yet.
Learning to Find Balance Once Again
Deadlines are good for forcing yourself to buckle down and get the project done.
Not so good when you work yourself into a constant state of anxiety, leaving room for little else, including your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Trust me, I know from experience. I’ve burned out several times over the years. And it’s not fun.
It can ruin your health, your relationships, your career… Even your writing.
If you’re fighting obsession, take steps now before you burnout.
Get outside: Go for a walk, visit friends and family, go to a movie… Anything to get you away from your writing for a little bit.
Limit your writing time: Start cutting back. Write within set boundaries and don’t let yourself stray. Choose times when you’re the most productive, and don’t let writing take over your life. Set a time to stop and stick to it.
Schedule time for the things you love: Gardening, reading, walking… Give yourself time to relax and enjoy life. You only get one.
Leave your writing at home: You can’t write if you don’t have the ability. This will give your mind the break it needs and help you focus on other activities.
Set your writing aside for a while: Days, weeks, months… Whatever it takes to feel like the weight has been lifted off your shoulders. This may seem extreme, but sometimes it’s the only solution to getting your life back on track. (Such as housework. *Hint, hint.*)
Writing is supposed to be enjoyable. Not something that makes you miserable.
If you’ve reached the point of obsession, get back control as soon as possible.
We’re much more likely to quit when we’re unhappy. Don’t let yourself get to that point!
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.