Friday, 17 May 2013

A Guide to Common Writing Disorders

It's been a while since I wrote a funny blog post, but this is not it. Oh no. This week, I'm taking a very serious look at some common phobias, irrational beliefs and other mental disorders that can affect writers. As a former sufferer of some of these conditions, I feel it's my solemn duty to dispel the stigma surrounding them through full and frank discussion. Although some of these disorders might seem bizarre or even humorous, on no account do I expect to hear any sniggering out there. Do we understand each other?

  • Pleonasmaphobia (A.K.A. Dan Brown Syndrome) - This is the fear that you will put too many words into a sentence, a horror – if you will - of including a profusion of lexical units in a given construction while also trying to cram in too many words, many of which will be superfluous, unnecessary, unwanted or even redundant to the overall meaning of the sentence, whose import will be forever clouded by the excess of words. The only treatment for Pleonasmaphobia is a course of aggressive editing, preferably at gunpoint.
  • Moleskinomania - The compulsion to buy nice stationery in the hope that it will improve the owner's writing. Doctors recommend that the condition be treated with the application of a splash of petrol and a lit match.
  • Lineditophilia - The belief amongst novice writers that poor proofreading is the root cause of their continual form rejections. This leads them to spend ever more time on formatting, spelling and grammar checking, while completely missing the fact that it's their writing that totally sucks. See also Querymania - the compulsion to endlessly rewrite your query letter rather than your novel.
  • Submission Submission - This condition arises from a writer's belief that literary agents know better than them, and that they must do everything an agent says in order to get published. Crueller agents have been known to exploit this disorder for their own amusement, sending sufferers to buy tins of stripy paint, making them hop for hours along the North Circular or by playing sadistic games of Simon Says via email.
  • Pigeonholophobia - A fear of being easily located amongst a genre or category of writing. Sufferers will claim that their work is "unique beyond measure" and make grandiose predictions about how they will change the world of publishing forever with their brave cross-genre experimentation. Unfortunately, this also leaves retailers unable to work out where to place the books on their shelves, leading to high return rates and royalty cheques that are too small to see with the naked eye.
  • Commentoriasis - Also known as Blogger's Cramp, this is a creeping disorder that manifests over many weeks and months. New bloggers are especially prone to the condition, as they post excitedly about grammar checking and puppies, while receiving no comments on their blog posts. At all. Commentoriasis can be relieved through the topical application of marketing or by giving up blogging altogether. Left untreated, however, it can cause the sufferer to question whether the internet is broken or induce delusions that convince them they are the last person left alive on planet Earth.
  • Blankpagitis - A severe form of procrastination that leads the sufferer to attempt increasing pointless and desperate activities in an attempt to avoid beginning a new novel. Symptoms including dusting, ironing and the vacuuming of curtains, while sufferers can often be identified due to the large quantities of cake they make and ingest on a daily basis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to dust allergies, third degree burns and an appearance on The Great British Bake Off.

Nick.

15 comments:

  1. Oh you are funny! :-)
    And I'm now off to iron the roller blinds...

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  2. I am smirking in nervous recognition. Not sniggering, not at all. Excellent blog Nick!

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  3. LOL Oh my goodness! I am literally rolling around on my living room floor right now! Not from laughing - but from trying to rub all of these conditions from my body - because I most certainly have ALL of them! :O Great piece.

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  4. Hey, you left out horticulturitis. The belief that hours spent perusing and buying plants online and even more hours potting them up and planting them out (if you can find room) will clear the brain and allow the creative juices to flow. Generally results in the sufferer discovering they've ordered ten climbing fuschias all of the same type and colour.

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  5. Haha! *cough* no, not funny at all.

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  6. I don't even need to say anything. You just KNOW which one is mine! Just stay away with your petrol and your matches, do you hear?! :-)

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  7. Self-diagnosis: severe pigeonholophobia complicated by a mild case of commentariosis. Thanks doctor!

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  8. What are you trying to say that the latest Moleskin notebook won't improve my work? No, I don't believe it, surely the creamy white paper and soft cover has to make my words more profound and meaningful!!!

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  9. I've suffered from many of these, and a few more besides i expect. I hope the Puppy comment wasn't aimed at me!

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  10. I love the way that everyone is rushing to out themselves as fellow sufferers! All very therapeutic ;-)

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  11. I suffer from Uselessitis with complications. Symptoms include a form of tinnitus where the only sound heard is 'rubbish' over and over again. OCD effects range from checking emails for rejections on the hour - down to every minute.
    Thank you Dr Nick.

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  12. I've just put down Inferno to read this. Very funny. I'm hiding my moleskine collection just in case.

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  13. Hi Nick, you know my friend the one you helped me out with last time ? Well she's really after a discussion with Frank about her commentoriasis but he said he'd had it up to here with her paranoia and to ask some other poor sod.
    So, that marketing stuff, where do i get a tube of that and do you really think i should get a puppy?

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  14. I suffer from a few of these, but thankfully my Spewthoughtsoritis is currently under control, so you'll never know which!

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