Tongue-Tied: OCD and Writer’s Block.

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.

Thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past

Among the veritable nor’easter of superhero media looming over the next few years, Fox is planning to exploit their film rights to the X-Men franchise to the fullest with a squall of additional movies.  They’re kicking this off with X-Men: Days of Future Past, a time-traveling epic featuring the cast of both the original X-Men trilogy (plus a couple of extras chosen by flipping through the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe at random) and 2011’s X-Men: First Class (including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, who looks like there is nothing in the world she would prefer to slithering around in blue bodypaint).  Unfortunately, the X-Men have something of a mixed track record with time-travel stories (and cinema, if we’re being honest).  As someone who wasted many lonely adolescent hours scrutinizing UncannyXMen.Net when I should have been doing homework or viewing pornography, I believe I am uniquely qualified to offer criticism and commentary on this latest venture:

– They should have swapped in Northstar as Magneto’s son instead of Quicksilver.  They wouldn’t clash with Disney over their use of the character in Avengers 2, he’s got his own emotionally damaged twin sister with vague energy powers (Aurora) to replace the Scarlet Witch, and they’d get some publicity by introducing the first gay superhero on film.

– Evan Peters has been good in American Horror Story, and I understand he commands something of a following among certain young female demographics, but I’m concerned the quality of his performance and his sex appeal will be restricted by covering his head with silver plastic Easter grass.

– Good for Peter Dinklage, on being cast as a character who isn’t a little person in the original stories – he’s popular and talented enough to be cast on his own merits as an actor.

– The characters they chose for alt-future redshirts are sort of arbitrary.  Blink and Bishop make sense as alternate dimension characters, I guess.  But why Warpath and Sunspot?   Are we laying groundwork for the eventual X-Force spinoff?  With Bishop replacing Cable for reasons of diversity/avoiding Cable’s awful design and stupid-complex continuity/film rights?

– Wikipedia informs me Singer announced Lady Gaga as Dazzler as an April Fool’s Day joke.  …am I alone in thinking that could have been kinda awesome?  The video for Born this Way is basically musical X-Men fanfiction, and besides, it still makes infinitely more sense than Jim Shooter’s original Dazzler movie pitch.

– I was kinda hoping we could see Archangel in the destroyed future with his badass emo razor Horseman of Apocalypse wings.  I know The Last Stand was lousy but I thought Ben Foster did a fine job with the little character arc he had.  Maybe they’ll bring him back for the next movie, which will reportedly actually includes Apocalypse.

– No Emma Frost… you know, I’ve been catching up on Mad Men recently, and for the life of me I can’t understand why they cast January Jones as Emma in the first place.  Jones’ whole thing is being quiet and broken and smoldering with barely-repressed rage and despair, and she’s great at that, but it’s completely wrong for Emma’s exaggerated dominatrix persona.

– Horrible fact: when typing “Cable Deadpool videogame” to find that Youtube link above, Google’s first autofill suggestion was “Cable Deadpool slash”.  Ladies, understand, I have no issue whatsoever with your homoerotic fanfic.  But drawing on my encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes: I cannot imagine even one single commingling of bodies more repulsive than Wade Wilson’s continuously regenerating hamburger flesh mashed against Nathan Summer’s half-chrome torso.  Seriously, Wolverine and Cyclops are right there!  Why would you ignore them, in favor of a romance that makes Rob Liefeld cry into his pillow at night?

The man himself.

Look at that face!

Embracing March Madness

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!

Obsessing About Obsessing: When OCD Goes Meta

Obsessing About Obsessing: When OCD Goes Meta

Bit of a long holiday, wasn’t it?  Less “holiday”, more “hibernation”.

But it’s a new year, a horrible New England spring with frost on the flowers and grimy snow on the roadsides, and I’m officially back.

I’m kicking things off with a column at Psych Today that I’m really proud of.  This one’s about obsessing about obsessing; when you stop worrying about contamination or scrupulosity or intrusive thoughts, and you start obsessing about the disorder itself.  It’s a topic I touched on briefly in the book, but as I’m sure you can imagine it’s a very difficult set of symptoms to articulate in a coherent manner, and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done here expanding on the subject.  Here’s hoping it helps out some other sufferers who are struggling to figure out what they’re dealing with.

And yeah, it’s good to be back.

OCD Cupid

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!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the worst possible mixture of romantic ingredients come together and EXPLODE!

As always, it is my fondest aspiration that my suffering amuses you. <3

Has “Girls” Cured OCD?

Has “Girls” Cured OCD?

Sorry to have vanished for so long – there’s a story here, I promise, and we’ll get to it soon.  For now, I drop some science on HBO’s Girls’ new season and its depiction of OCD, or absence thereof.  

[Nondenominational]time is here!

Hey everyone: with the holidays coming up, I unfortunately won’t have much time for writing, so expect things to be quiet here for a little while.  Merry Happy, and see you in 2014!


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