Friday, February 28, 2014

Could OCD be Behind My Writing Failures?

I am doing it again.  Editing as I go. Obsessing over every little word making my writing task tedious and joyless.  This is my 4th attempt at writing this post.  Why? Because it all has to be 'just so'.  I am now anxious and irked instead of inspired and creative.  When I get like this, I just want to give up.   I have discovered that for me writing everyday is like being on a diet.  When I miss a day, I kinda throw in the towel instead of picking up where I left off.

This is the first day since the 8th that I have written and like I said this is my 4th attempt at a post.  In fact after I deleted the third attempt and went to open the front door for my son, I muttered, "I can't do this."   Write.

I get stuck.  Not writer's block, but OCD stuck.  Writing and rewiring the same opening sentences.  It gets so hard for me to get past the first few words into the writing groove that inevitably I end up stressed and anxious - devoid of creativity and inspiration.  I get stuck.  It's a brain thing.

It's a brain thing.  Aha, it's a brain thing.  The idea that OCD has had an impact on my writing has never crossed my mind.

Sometimes when my ADHD son does his homework he will go back and trace his letters over and over again to make sure they are perfect.  He doesn't move on until the letters on the paper match the letters in his mind.  Sometimes if I let him, he won't get past the start and I have to step in.  He gets stuck -  OCD stuck.

I forget I have OCD because for me it's invisible.   The therapist that diagnosed me said I have a 'sticky mind' where a particular thought or image doesn't process out of my brain normally.   It gets stuck in transit.  For instance a few years ago I friend and I had a minor disagreement.  I replayed the conversation (and it's accompanying thoughts)  over and over again in my mind.  I lost three nights of sleep and walked through my days in an absent minded fog.   The difference between me and other OCD folks is that I don't respond physically to whatever is going on in my mind.  I don't have a routine that makes me feel better.

What if all this time it was some form of OCD impacting my writing.  Now that I think about it, some of my writing behaviors are odd.  Spending four and five hours straight composing one comment on someone else's blog.  Write and then delete.  Write and then delete.  Taking an hour to write what should be a five minute response to an email.   I chalked it up to being an unreasonable perfectionist, which is why I started this, "Planning to Fail" writing experiment.   If I have no expectations other than to express myself, then there is no reason to be perfect.  If I don't make plans to write the "Great American Novel" than I can be free to stink.  I just want to write. My plan worked, until it didn't.

I take responsibility for my stuff - I don't like passing the buck - I don't like a whole lot of excuses.  However, I can't help wondering if my writing failures are due to OCD.  It's a lot to think about.

The question I have asked myself over lifetime has been - How Come I Never Finish What I Start?  The answer seems simple...I can't get past the start.  I never get past the start.  Not really.  The perfectionism gets me every time.

Oh my goodness, I just got it! I said earlier that I don't have a routine that makes me feel better.  The Hell I don't!  Freakin' rewriting the same thing over and over again IS the routine - the compulsion that says I have to get it 'just so'.  But there is no 'just so' when it comes to writing.  I need to get to  'just finished'.

It's a terrible cycle.  I think my lack of discipline and consistency really says that I don't want to deal with the stress involved with getting past the start.

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