Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Latest Disease: Do you have it?

If you've ever been unemployed long enough to get into Dr. Phil, you know about body dysmorphia--a social disorder that makes people obsess about a perceived physical flaw. It's a "perceived" flaw because the flaw isn't nearly as horrendous as the perceiver thinks.

According to Wikipedia, the most freaked-about flaw in people who have body dysmorphia is acne. Wrong again, Wikipedia. Meet my new anxiety disorder (I have several. I collect them.):

Writing Dysmorphia

I have no friggin' clue if my writing is any good. How does one tell? Just this week, I've described my writing with one or more of the following adjectives:

crisp / stilted
funny / cheesy
gripping / WTF?

You know those people on American Idol? You know the ones! So confident they're going to blow the judges away, they open their mouths and we viewers are stuck between laughter and the immense guilt of watching someone's genuine dreams crushed on international television for our entertainment.

What if I'm one of those people?

Perusing the web-definitions of dysmorphia, I came across this tidbit:

"Body dysmorphic disorder interferes with functioning and may lead to social isolation..."

Oh my, yet another symptom I exhibit. While my friends hit the local hipster hangout, I lock myself in a tiny upstairs room à la Bertha Mason, deleting and re-entering commas, reading aloud, pacing. I am sick, y'all.

Writing brethren, two of my non-virtual writer friends tell me that writing dysmorphia is rampant. In fact, they say everyone has it. Is this true?

Do you have writing dysmorphia? Have you any idea whether your writing is good, bad, or fugly? How do you gain this objectivity? Cure me, peeps!


  1. I feel your pain! Truly, I do! There has been 3 times in the last 2 years that I've started chugging away with a new idea then trash it two chapters in!! I start off strong "Yeh! This is going to be amazing!", then I start thinking "Well, I guess it's Ok" and a few thousand words in it's "This is crap! Who am I kidding? I can't write a book!" I have an extrememly close friend who reads as I go. She's able to ask me questions like "Why is MC doing this?" or things along those lines and of course I love the reaction "Oh my gosh! What happens next?!" That's how I deal! And just yesterday I enlisted a blogger friend to do the really helps me!

  2. I may have this disease you speak of, but as you already know, I have a remedy for it.

    Is there a disease that strikes the afflicted with a subconscious loathing of question marks.

  3. Lol very entertaining post, Marie!
    I can relate. I used to suffer from this hideous affliction. But, you know what, I've heard so many people worrying about their writing abilities that it has become an embarrassing cliché.
    I try not to think about whether my writing is good or bad. Simply, my writing is what it is, which means it's natural, free and meaningful to me. Maybe it isn't good or important in other people's eyes, but I just don't care anymore.
    Try not to have self-doubt. Just sit back and enjoy the writing process. I have discovered that writing is SO MUCH more fun when I'm not stressing out about it!
    I hope this goes some way to remedy your illness. :)

  4. I've never seen a Dr. Phil show. Between my day job and writing at night (and the daughter's softball), I don't watch much TV.

    I have a cleft lip and palate and it still bothers me but not as much as it used to as a kid. Try having a huge scar front and center of your face, and a lopsided nose and lips - they never clear up like acne eventually will. Oh well...

    As per my writing, I have my ups and downs. Sometimes I think my stuff sucks and sometimes I think it's pretty good. Sometimes I'm right but not always. Sometimes it just depends on my mood.

  5. There is no cure. I have it. I didn't know it had a name, but I have it. I can tell you, your writing rocks my world. But you'll still doubt yourself because you're a writer and you care about your craft.

    As Louise says, "We are all works in progress." You're just a few steps head of the game. ;)

  6. Oh gosh, if you find a cure - LET ME KNOW. I suffer from the exact same disease!