One of the many odd things about my life as a writer is that, whenever I talk to people about the book, they always have a lot of questions about mental illness, and few about writing. There are times when I’d even appreciate one of the old cliches, even the eye-rolling “where do you get your ideas?”, instead of relating my personal history of despair and agonizing obsession for the fiftieth time.
I have a new column up at Psychology Today; and this one, I hope, will be of interest not just to OCD sufferers, but to anyone who’s ever had trouble stringing two words together on a piece of blank paper. It’s my attempt to use the principles of OCD treatment, and especially Exposure-Response Prevention, to develop a strategy to fight off writer’s block.
Creativity requires risk. Trying to lock down every single aspect of a piece on your first go-around is just going to produce strangled, incoherent work. Write now, revise later! Let your work get messy. That’s why they call it a rough draft, isn’t it?
Here’s hoping other writers find this useful.
Any aspiring writers among you may be interested in this:
The online writing community Stage of Life, which hosts monthly writing international contests for students focusing on contemporary social issues, is currently hosting a “March Madness” writing contest. Despite what you may assume from the title, this contest focuses not on the basketball nonsense that’s been interrupting JEOPARDY! on Thursdays and Fridays for the past few weeks, but on a subject near and dear to my heart: mental illness.
Stage of Life is asking for essays that, in 500 words or less, give your take on “mental health or mental illness issues… about yourself, living with family members who have mental illness, friends, or a broader take on the topic of mental health / mental illness”. You have until midnight, March 31st to submit your piece: you can view the official rules, check out some other mental health resources, and get more information about Stage of Life here.
I had the honor of being a partner author with this month’s contest, and I’m pleased to say I’m among some very illustrious company. Among other things, I’ll be donating a signed copy of Triggered to one of the winners. So if you’re looking to own one of my scribbles, and you don’t feel like paying some mercenary schmuck on Amazon Marketplace $69.99 + $3.99 shipping, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!
March 31st, 500 words or less. Have at it, and best of luck!
Mental Illness! Insomnia! Extended rumination on time-sensitive matters of the heart! Unfashionable Daft Punk references (in my defense, the original draft of this was composed last summer)! The Internet!
As always, it is my fondest aspiration that my suffering amuses you. <3