Editing psychosis: recognize the signs

It’s time to shed some light on a severe disorder that is rarely discussed in writing circles. Usually because the poor sufferers don’t recognize the signs themselves.

The signs of editing psychosis: is this you?

  • Able to go for long periods of time without moving from your computer. Hours may slip past unnoticed.
  • You stare intensely at your computer screen at the same passage of text or even a single word. To outsiders, you appear to be achieving absolutely nothing.
  • Commas annoy you. Repeated words annoy you. In fact, you start to obsess about tiny things on the page. Repeat the point above.
  • You have issues recalling important details about your life. You may forget appointments. You may neglect to cook dinner. Or your husband. Or your children.
  • Other work may suffer. (Pete, if you’re reading this, the editing is almost done and I’ll get you that quote tomorrow…)
  • You also have short term memory loss. You only remember that load of washing you put on when you go to put another load of washing on the following day.
  • You have an irrational urge to record everything on sticky notes. To an outsider, they may confuse your desk or office with an investigative profiler’s.
  • You suddenly feel very tense and even reasonable things annoy you, such as your child’s request for food. Actually, big things annoy you too, pretty much anything to do with LIFE.

Tips for living with editing psychosis

If this is you, it could be time to seek help. Editing psychosis is a serious, but little recognised condition and the first step is education. Print this article out and give it to your family members and friends to help them understand.

If you are in the middle of a bout of editing psychosis, the best course of action is to finish your editing project. The sooner, the better.

If however, you recognise a bout coming on, carry out the following in preparation:

  • Stock your refrigerator with leftovers, or have your local take out menus within easy reach at all times.
  • Calmly explain to your family that you are about to suffer a bout of editing psychosis. Make it clear that you really do love them, but for the next (insert time of however long editing is going to take) you will be uninterested in their lives.
  • Ignore the housework or obtain a suitable house wife/husband for the period of your illness.
  • Eye drops. Keep them on hand at all times.
  • Invest in a super size water bottle to sit beside your computer to combat significant moisture loss brought about by long periods staring at your computer screen.
  • Suitable music to aid focus (I like something with a beat, Trance is always good). Be aware that outsiders may consider your music to worsen your symptoms, but reassure them it will aid recovery.
  • Where possible, try to remember to take toilet breaks and to stretch at regular intervals.

As you can probably tell, I’m in the midst of the final edits for my contemporary romance, The Boyfriend Sessions, due out with Momentum next month! While the above is of course tongue in cheek, I suspect writers everywhere suffer some of these issues when editing their own books. Hopefully these tips help, or at least provide a laugh to remind you that you’re not the only one.

Oh, and you’ll be relieved to know there is a cure for editing psychosis, but it is extreme: stop writing.

Not a chance! I must be sick…

How about you? Have you ever suffered editing psychosis and what do you do to combat it?

*Image courtesy of Victoria Nevland @ Flickr.com

13 Replies to “Editing psychosis: recognize the signs”

  1. I love this: “Commas annoy you. Repeated words annoy you. In fact, you start to obsess about tiny things on the page. Repeat the point above.” HA!! I remember doing this with Angst! Just agonizing about each word or word placement or comma etc and actually realizing all the times I’d used the same word or same phrase or getting annoyed by my writer “quirks”. It really is soooo annoying when you have to finish something and you want it to be perfect and thus you stress over the smallest details for hours on end. Glad it’s over for you!! Feels good, I’ll bet!

    1. Thanks Victoria, editing is the obsessive compulsive side of writing. The yang to the yin of letting your creative beast run wild. During editing you’re taming that beast with the precision of a sniper rifle and it can get pretty intense. Yep, definitely a good feeling to have tamed the beast and put the sniper rifle away for this project. Just trying to wake the beast up for the next project but it’s still a bit exhausted!

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