Today being Friday means I get to post whatever’s on my mind. This week, the theme is definitely obsession! Bear with me, there will be pretty pictures and funny gifs and it’s relevant to writing… promise!
I have an obsessive personality. This became apparent around about the age of twelve when my infatuation with Leonardo di Caprio resulted in my entire bedroom being plastered in images of the actor. Understandable for any hormonal tween, right? Yeah, but then the obsession went one step further in that I spent an entire month of school holiday watching Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and by month I mean I watched the movie almost every day until I could virtually recite the entire film. I was 12. Don’t judge me.
While this may have been a little cause for concern, having lived through several subsequent obsessions – the Savage Garden era, the Heath Ledger phase, the Caiseal Mor and Stephen Lawhead addiction etc. – I’ve come to understand my obsessive traits not as a reason for therapy, but rather as something that can be channeled creatively, especially when it comes to writing…
Obsession is good for me when it comes to writing because it allows me to fully immerse myself in my fictional world. I don’t just write it, I live it. When I’m working on a novel, in the midst of drafting/editing/rewriting, I wake up thinking about my characters and they’re the last thing on my mind before bed. When I’m on the bus on the way to my day job, I’m running through lines of dialogue. When I experience something in real life, I wonder, what would Character X do? I become my own creations and spend days ‘in character’ as I try to get into their skin and walk that mile in their shoes to truly understand them. I write and rewrite and don’t move on to the next chapter until I’m 100% satisfied with what I’ve got. This makes my drafting process slow, but more satisfying for the perfectionist in me.
It’s also something I have to learn to temper in my writing because real life obsessions can so easily spill over into my characters and suddenly my entire cast are all fans of Scriabin or only ever eat a certain type of breakfast cereal or only ever write in certain notepads of a certain colour with a certain pen… Yeah. Sometimes I’ve got to rein back the crazy and free the characters from my own obsessive devices. The other problem in writing while obsessing is that I end up repeating metaphors or certain turns of phrase because I become so obsessed with a certain word or a certain image. Recently, I discovered that every single one of my characters had freckles and used the word ‘stellar’ and experienced their blood turning to anti-freeze.
Thankfully, I’m aware of my tendency toward obsession and have managed to curb this in my writing. Not so much in my real life where – in case you hadn’t guessed it – my most recent obsession has been for one blue-eyed, freckled (aha, so that’s where it comes from!), Irish actor better known as the Scarecrow from Christpher Nolan’s Batman franchise. So while my characters might be a little more…erm, balanced, I will be indulging my obsession starting from tonight with a Cillian Murphy movie marathon that I hope will cure this week’s bout of OCD, until the next one strikes…
What are your obsessions? Because, let’s be honest, we all have them.