Does it Take Being Obsessed to be Successful at Writing?

Obsession. It’s a word that many people view in a negative context. Probably because it’s a singling out of one thing that usually gives imbalance to a well-rounded life style. But really, who actually lives a well-balanced lifestyle? So then, why even think of an obsession as a bad thing? In fact, many who have entered into this heightened state are usually the ones who actually get things done. defines obsession as “the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, ect.” Sounds to me like a the exact place a writer needs to be.

I think of all those incredible sagas written by Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, ect. I can only image the sort of obsession they and many others have thrown themselves into in order to weave those tales and make such vibrant stories come alive. I wonder how much time did they spend just thinking and pondering on their story? How many hours, days, weeks, months, years did it take to come up with the end product that now sits on the bookshelf. How much research, rewriting, and deep plotting did they really do?

Brian Herbert gives a glimpse into his father Frank Herbert’s writing habits in the Afterword of Dune by saying, “Growing up in Frank Herbert’s household, I did not understand his need for silence so that he could concentrate, the intense desire he had to complete his important writing projects, or the confidence he had that one day his writing would be a success, despite the steady stream of rejections that he received. To my young eyes, the characters he created in Dune and his other stories were the children of his mind, and they competed with me for his attention.”

Sounds pretty obsessive to me. And after reading that Afterword, I wondered how many other successful authors were consumed with their work. Granted, obsession does not always guarantee success or the success a person might be looking for, but it does immerse a person into a project or idea that allows for a lot of work to be done. And that’s kind of how I see it- obsession is the platform in which something great can be accomplished.

An obsession takes a spark of an idea and makes it grow and fosters the growth into something more than what we first imagined. It can be a beautiful thing, and often leads to incredible feats of work and discoveries. And it’s a place I know I need to be if I am ever going to get the gigantic story in my head down on paper.

I’ve talked about it many times before. My novel Blood Feud and the storyverse of the Ethian Empire. It’s a story that can’t be told in one, two, or even six books. I have six books plotted out with ideas for even more and many off shoot short stories that tell a vast story with a wide cast of characters centered around the main character Adar and the Empire he finds himself in. I’ve been working on the idea for about two years now. I just finished up the third draft of the first book. I have drafts of three short stories down, a prequel novella partway done, and loose first drafts completed of books two, three, and four. I can only image what I’ll have done in two more years. And even though that seems like a lot, for me, it isn’t enough. I want to do more. I want to be obsessed.

Some people might already consider me obsessed because it’s all I really talk about in my writing. Though, I have taken the time to do other short stories that have nothing to do with the Ethian storyverse these past two years. Those stories were a nice detour, but now I wonder if maybe those detours took away from what else I could have done in my epic story. So I’ve decided, for the time being, to stop writing on anything but the Ethia storyverse. Yes, I’ll still keep up my blog, for now, because it’s an outlet that I enjoy. It helps me write better in my fiction when I take the time to explore ideas of nonfiction that is connected directly or indirectly to my writing and writing journey. But everything else will be pushed to the side while I dig deeper and become consumed by writing the story I want to tell.

I know I will never be a Frank Herbert or Robert Jordan, and that’s okay. Hell, I may never get any of my story published, and that’s okay too. All I want is to put this story down and make it come alive. I want to be apart of it and breath life into these fascinating characters that keep me up late at night, because to do anything else would be crazy. All I know is that I feel more alive and more fulfilled when I do write on this story, and any other writing just takes away from that. I’m done with the distractions. And I apologize in advance if my posts become so heavy with the topic of my Ethian storyverse that it makes you want to puke. You can always just stop reading, I won’t take offense. I’ll be too busy being obsessed.


6 thoughts on “Does it Take Being Obsessed to be Successful at Writing?

  1. Great post. I think obsession can help writers, particularly when writing a series of books as opposed to a one-off. However, healthy obsession is key. If you stop eating and sleeping one day, perhaps it’s gone a little far 🙂

  2. “You can always just stop reading, I won’t take offense. I’ll be too busy being obsessed.”

    LOL – love it!!

    I haven’t hit that point of obsession yet with writing – and I’m very glad you have! I’ve been obsessed with other things (game developing / photography) and obsessed it what it takes to get them done.

  3. Great post. Reminded me that Lewis and Tolkien were academics at oxford together who challenged and supported each others obsessions with their writing.
    Enjoy your obsession an don’t mind the rest of us who are obsessing around too. .

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