Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Single Minded Writer Syndrome

Single Minded Writer Syndrome plagues thousands of writers in the world. Every ten minutes another writer is diagnosed with Single Minded Writer Syndrome...

I might have made that up, but it gets my point across. I'm not alone, and neither are you! There are other writers who forget life outside their books and walk around their houses with dark circles under their eyes, unbrushed hair, and a tea cup permanently attached to their hand. This isn't pretty, but I've never met a writer who looks cute in the throes of Single Minded Writer Syndrome.

SMWS can last anywhere from a day to a few weeks. I think how long it lasts is however long it takes the writer to realize they have it. The reason I'm writing this post is to talk about my own bout with SMWS. You may have noticed my absence for most of last week, that's because I spent that time catching up on homework that I'd either procrastinated on or forgotten about. I know what you're thinking: how does someone forget they have homework? And honestly, I don't know. I can only blame it on SMWS.

My brain usually says "After I do this assignment, I can go write," this is rational and normal. In the midst of SMWS all that rationality gets thrown out the window and my brain starts chanting me to the office: "WRITE WRITE WRITE!!!Whatthehellareyouwaitingfor?!!"  And me, seduced by all the pictures of future scenes in my head, I give in.

Without realizing it, I gave into this voice for most of April. Everyday was a race to the office. In the morning it was always "how fast can I shower, make coffee, and stuff that toast in my mouth?" and then when that took too long: "What about multitasking? Can I eat toast while I shower?" I was so caught up in my book that everything else fell away, nothing was more important than getting the next word, the next scene, the next chapter.

This mindset can be beneficial in small doses. In big heaping doses it becomes destructive (I'm using myself as an example).

So, how do you recognize the symptoms and what's the cure?

I'm not sure I could accurately write all the symptoms of SMWS without asking Bee and my mom what I'm like when "I crawl under my rock" (when I'm in my office 208994 hours of the day). So, I'll let you guys draw your own conclusions for that one. In fact, I would suggest you ask the people around you what you're like when you get "in that mood." They'll tell you the truth.

Anyway, once you realize you've contracted Single Minded Writer Syndrome, the only way to get over it is to type one last sentence, close the word document, and step out of the office. Immerse yourself in the real world again...and brush your hair, your computer might not judge you but other people will.


  1. Oh the curse! It never leaves. I know how you feel. Once I typed my last sentence I stepped out of the cave into the sunlight and saw the world had gone on without me. (still scrambling to "catch-up" somewhat.) People understand...eventually. But it defintiely is a conscious balancing act.

  2. The same thing happened to me, I walked outside just the other day and was shocked to find flowers blooming and trees with leaves on them. The last time I really looked, it was wet and gray outside.