Posts Tagged OCD

How Obsessive Are You? The Reward of the Relentless Pursuit

Oh, look! Kristen must have shopped here.Image via Flikr Creative commons, courtesy of Ryan Leighty.

Oh, look! Kristen must have shopped here.
Image via Flikr Creative commons, courtesy of Ryan Leighty.

Being a successful writer is a lot like being a successful anything. One must, of course, at least possess some talent. But, talent alone isn’t enough. Talent is like a vein of gold buried deep in a mountain of granite. Unless someone works really hard, the gold is worthless. Someone needs to put in the sweat equity to mine that gold, refine it, and transform it into something the world finds valuable.

Character is important, because character is what makes us get up earlier or stay up later than the next guy. Character is what will help us focus, what allows us to be teachable, and what presses us to finish what we start.

But, yesterday, I did a bit more thinking about what component truly stands out when it comes to being a successful author. The word that came to me is obsession.

It came to me after my third run through a Gears of War 4 (video game) level, where I kept earning two and a half stars. A HALF star? What IS THAT? WHO AWARDS HALF A FREAKING STAR?


I don’t know about you guys, but my absolute FAVORITE show in the universe is The Big Bang Theory, and Sheldon (an OCD/likely autistic physicist) is my favorite character. I find myself laughing and yelling, That is SO me!  

From rearranging the couch cushions to the “right” order, to always walking the same route when I go to the park, I have this weird tendency to need and follow patterns in life.

Me watching Hubby load the dishwasher.

Me watching Hubby load the dishwasher.

I begin my days exactly the same way every morning, and, if events push me out of this routine, I get a tad twitchy. It’s also why I hate going grocery shopping with my husband. He shops in the wrong order. 

NO! You can’t start shopping on THAT side of the store! Are you mad? Who starts shopping in the bakery?


You can't start in the bakery. Who starts shopping in the BAKERY?

You can’t start in the bakery. Who starts shopping in the BAKERY?

This past weekend was, of course, Easter, but was also our wedding anniversary. To celebrate? Non-stop Gears of War 4 marathon.

I have to be careful with video games. I can’t stop until the game is “finished,” and even then, I only finished on Normal Level. Now we need to beat the game (finish) on Hardcore and Insane. Oh, and there are still clues out there we haven’t found. And, have I mentioned that, on most levels, we only earned one or two stars? They don’t match. They all need to be THREE stars.

Okay, at least all be two stars. Make them match.

At the gym, the Stair Monster is trying to kill me. If I set it to do a 25 minute workout, I will make it 51 floors. FIFTY-ONE? No, needs to be at least 55…but then it’s a 27 minute workout. Crap. Okay, we’ll go to 30 minutes make it even-Stephen. 64 floors? ACK, Okay, just to 65 floors…31 minutes? So 60 minutes later and 121 FLOORS….


While my obsessive nature isn’t anything that requires therapy or medication (yet) I do think it’s a quality that helps me do what I do.

When we create characters in a novel, we must remember that their best quality always has a dark side. The loyal, tender-hearted protagonist, can also be a naive fool easily taken advantage of. The hard-driven Type A is a great leader and achiever, but often tramples over the feelings of others.

All of us have a dark side. Our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses.

My dark side is I can (if unchecked) be controlling, OCD, and obsessive. I frequently find myself worn out from doing all the housework, because, well…YOU CAN’T FOLD TOWELS THAT WAY! WHO FOLDS TOWELS THAT WAY? WERE YOU RAISED BY WOLVES?

I’ve had to learn to trust others, delegate, let go of having things my way, and just focus on my responsibilities. Appreciate that others can do things differently and that’s okay.

*left eye twitches*

Really, it is. I’ll be fine.

Being obsessive is a good thing, but the dark side of being obsessive manifests as manipulating, bullying and controlling others. I would love to say I have never been guilty of any of that *whistles innocently* but, what can I say? I’m a recovering “first/older sibling.” I’m working on it.

Yet, when I think about what’s really helped me persevere as a writer, I know I have my obsessive nature to thank. Ten years ago, when I was skewered in my first critique, I worked tirelessly until my work was so good, no one had anything but praise. If I didn’t understand something, I didn’t read a book on the topic, I read all books on the topic.

We won’t even mention my scrapbooking phase.

Obsession is part of why I blog. I heard about the 10,000 hour rule (the magic mark that separates the master from the apprentice) and I’m all about efficiency. Become a better, cleaner, faster writer and hit 10,000 hours sooner.

I think all of us require the fire of obsession to do well in this business (any business). We just need to remember three key things:

1. The world does not reward perfection; it rewards finishers.

2. Learn to delegate. Let your family be part of your success. Let your husband fold the clothes, you can refold them later keep writing.

3.  The numbers on the Stair Master WILL NEVER BE EVEN AT THE SAME TIME. I’ve tried. Ellipticals and treadmills have also been infiltrated. I think Al Qaeda is behind the calorie counter.

For those who want a laugh, there is a small dose of Sheldon in this clip. I apologize ahead of time that it is only 1:29 minutes. REALLY, PEOPLE?:

What you do think? Are Stair Masters evil? Are you a bit obsessive? What are your obsessions? Could you see a little (or a lot) of yourself in Sheldon? Do you have to be careful with your obsessive nature? Do you drive your family nuts with your obsessive tendencies? What do you do to keep the obsession channeled to your writing?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

Note: Due to Easter holiday/anniversary…okay video game marathon, I will be choosing March’s winner later in the week, so stay tuned.

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Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?


Sigmund Freud 

This past week I was sick with a cold, and, once I got to feeling better, I stripped all the bedding and went to Febreze the room and…I could not find my cans of Febreze. This might not seem all that eventful, except I have a habit; a weird, strange whacky habit that I have been trying to break. We’re gonna play armchair psychiatrist today. It’ll be fun :D.

I am addicted to Febreze. Stop laughing.

I think I have all of these.

I use “addicted” in a very loose sense. I am not spending my son’s college fund on Febreze, but I do seem to buy a lot of it. More than seems normal. In fact, I find myself going straight for the aisle of house cleaning supplies, eager to see if they have any new fragrances available, even though I still have at least a half a dozen cans at home yet to be used.

I know this sounds insane, but over the years it seems like I always have one strange addiction that, when I get rid of it…a new one takes it’s place. And none of my addictions are anything that will land me in jail or rehab, but they still makes me scratch my head and wonder, “WTH?”

Years ago, I was addicted to office supplies. It seemed I could not make a trip to the store that I didn’t at least purchase pens, notecards, highlighters or rubber bands.  I still cannot go to a Staples without a list and a will of iron. I think this addiction stemmed from childhood. My mother was the one who always made me bring extra school supplies for the kids who came from underprivileged families so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. My mother would stock my bag with extra boxes of Crayons and notebook paper that I could slip to the kids who didn’t have any. I was the “Go To Gal” for glue, rubber cement, colored pipe cleaners and googly-eyes of all sizes. Scissors? I could totally hook you up.

I am from a military family, and we believe that, “Three is two. Two is one, and one is none.” Translation? Be prepared….for everything.

One day, I realized that the office supply thing was getting out of hand, thus forbade myself to buy any office supplies until I was really, truly, genuinely OUT. My calculations put that date at November 13, 2024.

…so I started buying “Thank You” notes. “Thank You” notes of all varieties and sizes and shapes, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I ever remembered to send them. When I forbade myself to buy anymore “Thank You” notes? Cleaning supplies took over. When we moved into our new house almost two years ago, I swear I must have had enough cleaning supplies to shine the entire neighborhood. It took me a year to use up all the cleaning supplies I had stockpiled. I guess if the Zombie Apocalypse struck I wanted to have plenty of Swiffer refills just in case. *slaps forehead*

So you guys can guess what took the place of the cleaning supplies. You got it.


At one time I had at least two cans of it in every room. Febreze in every scent. Febreze in the new holiday scents. Limited time only fragrance? I am so there. New Zealand Springs? They had me at “New Zealand.” Ooooh…had to have it. Oh, and at Wal-Mart I can get the two pack for $5.00. At Target, I have to pay $2.53 each.

Yes, I am only saving .06 but that adds up when you have a habit like mine :D.

Oh, but this brings me to a weird habit. My husband makes fun of me because I have a compulsive need to add numbers in my head and then take it down to its root (if that root is a whole number). For instance, if I see the date April 28, 2011, I instinctively add 4 + 2 + 8 + 2 +0 +1 + 1=18…. 1+8 =9 and taken to its root is 3. I do this with addresses, dates, you name it. I actually am freakishly accurate tallying the grocery bill in line (tax included).

I have no idea why I do this or where it came from. Just like I really do not understand why I feel the need to have Febreze in every room of the house. Well, I DID have Febreze in every room of the house until I started noticing my Febreze addiction was getting a wee out of hand. Now I am down to one can…which I had taped behind the toilet tank :D.

But this makes me think how unique all of us are. We all have these strange habits, addictions, compulsions and tics. Some of them make sense and some just never will. These odd behaviors are what make us unique, whether it is collecting smarta$$ t-shirts or a compulsive need to touch the doorframe before we unlock the front door. Some of these habits have a story behind them, and others? Well, they just seemed to spring to life all on their own.

What are some weird habits and addictions you guys have?

I collect bodies under my house.

Kidding! *laughs awkwardly*

Let’s keep it light. Do any of you guys have odd hobbies or collections?  Maybe you collect shot glasses or bobble-head dolls? Cabbage Patch paraphenalia? Do you have any odd rituals? Do you think all habits and rituals have a root source? Or are some habits just spontaneous, with no psychological root? Come on! Let’s play armchair psychiatrist!

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Will post this week’s/ month’s winner later today. Check back, please.

May 9-13, 2011, I will be teaching an on-line Building Your Author Brand with Social Media Class for only $15 to support the wonderful Long Island Romance Writers.

Tomorrow!!!!!  I will be teaching TWO social media classes at the Books ‘n Authors and All that Jazz Conference this Saturday at Weatherford College in Weatherford, TX. The conference is FREE.

My new book, “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer” will be out in less than a month!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

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