The problem with having an obsessive personality …

I admit it. I have an obsessive personality.

What does this mean? I’m not talking drugs, or alcohol, or gambling. I’m talking being a nerd. In high school, it was Harry Potter fanfiction. I’m not saying it consumed my whole life, but I *loved* me some HP fanfics. I used to print them out and read them on the bus, or stay up waaaaay past my bedtime because I couldn’t stop reading.

Then came university, and World of Warcraft. Free time between classes? Well, I could either do my reading … or play some WoW. Guess who won that battle?

There have been dozens of other obsessions along the way, all of which consumed my life for a period of time, be it a few days or upwards of three years. All of them I now look back on nostalgically … except nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion of all, because it threatens to suck me back into the obsessions of my past.

Right now, it’s Naruto. That would be the ninja anime that has about 6 bazillion episodes, and counting. Despite the fact that the plot moves like molasses, and I can’t stand about half the story arcs, I just can’t seem to stop watching this show. I went through a Naruto phase back in university, and four years later, it has struck me again. In case you were wondering why I haven’t been posting as frequently as usual, Naruto would be why.

Every obsession is different, and has to be treated differently. For most, like my current obsession, I just let them run their course. Naruto has like 500 episodes, and I highly doubt I’ll have the patience to get through all of those. So I probably won’t have to take action against my poor self-control, because my limited attention span should do the trick for me.

Other obsessions are more dangerous. The new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, comes out in September. WoW is an awesome game, and I played it for several years. I devoted many hours and many dollars to that game, and I just know that if I let myself anywhere near the expansion, I won’t be able to stop. The only thing that saved me from the previous expansion is that my computer broke and I literally couldn’t play the game.

I make all this sound worse than it is, obviously. I do have self control. I don’t get so obsessed that I forget to turn off the stove and burn the house down (although I did once set a cupcake on fire in a toaster oven). But I have many things I want to accomplish in my leisure time, and when my obsessive personality latches onto one thing for too long, all my leisure time becomes devoted to it. And for a writer, that’s no good, because it’s kind of hard to write if I’m spending all my time gaming/reading/watching TV.

Does anyone else have this problem? I dare you to tell me the silliest obsession you’ve ever had. No judging here. And if you have tips for overcoming an obsessive personality, please feel free to share! The WoW expansion is on the horizon, and I’ll need every tool available to stop from being sucked back in.

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52 thoughts on “The problem with having an obsessive personality …

  1. Yes, there is something nerdy about the Harry Potter stuff. As for the WoW and Naruto, I am fortunately too old to play those games. Perhaps weed or alcohol would be helpful; they’re traditional favorites among writers. Keep writing.

  2. My recent obsessions: 1. My Herbert West Trilogy (in 4 volumes). From 2000 until 2005 I was totally immersed in creating the characters, the scenes, the dialogue. From 2006 through 2009, it was the songs of Franz Schubert, esp. his song cycles Die Schone Mullerin and Winterreise. So I wrote a novel about that. And a short story. i never have gotten into gaming. Too old and too weird.

    • Consider yourself lucky! Online gaming is more addicting than drugs (or so I’ve been told, haha). I need to be more like you and obsess over things that will actually help my writing career, not detract from it. Although I do get a lot of ideas from watching/playing/reading my various obsessions πŸ™‚

  3. I have recently become rather addicted to Skyrim. Having only 3-4 hours per day that I don’t work, it becomes hard to sate that appetite. It’s not the only one, either. Last year, when I discovered A Song of Ice and Fire…

  4. I had a bit of obsession a long time ago, with role playing. I was addicted to it, but I got over it.

  5. I was obsessed once with Baskin-Robbins ice cream. No kidding. One summer they offered punch cards – after you bought six quarts, your seventh was free. I was eating a quart of ice cream every day!! i was obsessed with trying all of the flavors. Hmmm … maybe this was just gluttony rather than obsession. But I was into sports then and never gained an ounce. I probably clogged my arteries. I might obsess about that. … Our son played a lot of WoW, and I think he has his eye on the expansion, too. It’s a tough balance when your obsession is something you enjoy so much.

    • Oh man, an ice cream obsession sounds delicious. I could totally get behind that. What’s your favourite flavour? I’m partial to chocolate peanut butter.

      • Me too!! I’m in Ohio, and the Buckeye is our state tree. Buckeye candy (google if you’ve never seen them), is made all over here, and I love chocolate and peanut butter everything.

  6. I’ve been obsessed with Doctor Who for the past two years. Star Wars for five or six years. I’m not sure how to escape the obsession other than becoming obsessed with something else. Which is probably counter-productive.

    Out of all the things you wrote in this, I’m just shock that you can put cupcakes in toaster ovens. πŸ˜›

    • Haven’t tried Doctor Who, but I’ve been on and off Star Wars since I first saw the movies when I was like five years old, lol.

      And yeah, apparently cupcake icing catches on fire if you put it in a toaster oven. Who knew, right?

      • Doctor Who is pretty amazing. I’m not sure what first made me interested in the sci-fi genre, though it is safe to guess it was Star Wars.

        I sure didn’t. My toaster hates me, it toasts once a day and will not warm up afterward. So when I heat one pop tart, eat it and I’m still hungry, I can’t warm up the second. Then I eat carrots while screaming at my toaster. πŸ˜›

  7. Procrastination is my worst obsession. Scares the crap out of me. Averages say I’ve only about about 45 years left to live. I’m running out of time!!! πŸ˜‰

    • I feel that. I’m supposed to be working right now. Guess what I’m doing? Blogging. And don’t worry about the 45 years thing — according to reliable sources, we’ll all be immortal by 2040.

  8. atothewr

    If I didn’t have obsessions I wouldn’t exist. It seems to get to me the worst when I am really tired. Current obsession would have to be blogging. I was on Blogger for a couple of years before moving to WordPress – now I’m obsessed with traffic, and likes, and all the great posts (like yours) that are so easy to find.

    • Aw, thanks πŸ˜€ That’s actually a really good point — I do fall back into my obsessions more when I’m tired. And I wish I had a useful obsession like yours — watching anime isn’t helping anyone except my imagination, lol.

      • atothewr

        If you can find fuel for your imagination – that is just as useful as mine. The imagination always needs fuel.

  9. I was horrendous for HP fandom back in the day, and when I get buried into a good game I REALLY get buried in it (Fallout 3, Skyrim). I’ve always refused to play MMOs from watching beloved friends and family literally destroy their lives and their personalities from getting sucked into WoW for years 😦

    I know people who’ve got over that and actually think of themselves as survivors. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WOW.

    Anyway. Yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from, and I wish I had some good advice. The only thing I find that works is for my boyfriend to shout at me. Something along the lines of ‘YOU HAVE PLAYED 50 HOURS OF THAT THIS WEEK PAY ATTENTION TO ME PLEASE’ and guilt me out of it.

    Haha. Maybe I could hire him out to help other people.

  10. Chris

    I used to be totally into HP fanfic too. In fact, the writer’s workshop/club I created in high school circled that obsession for a while. Our moderator *loved* writing an R to NC-17 Sirius/Severus pairing, haha. If I remember correctly I wrote mine before “Prince” came out and was delighted to find a couple similar themes between my own work and Rowling’s when the book was finally released.

    Other obsessions:

    Fable 2 & 3, Final Fantasy X and Halo Wars. I don’t know what it was about these games, since I’ve played so many others, but I *poured* hours into all of them over the years. I think I played the latter, which lists how many hours I’ve spent in-game at the bottom of the home screen, for something like 250 hours.

    Harry Potter: In general, I just re-read the books over and over again. Back in the day I used to read, then stretch out on the bed in the summer time listening to Jim Dale narrate the sections I had just finished. πŸ™‚

    • Sirius/Severus … lol. I remember the first time I stumbled across a slash fic. I didn’t know what “slash” meant, so when Draco and Harry were locked up in Azkaban and started doing … things to each other in the shower, I was like O_o

      Then I wrote a Snape/Dobby fic called Chocolate Pudding and got over my O_o feeling toward slash, lol.

  11. I know someone who is compulsively obsessive. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. Right now it it diet and exercise. That’s good though. He’s lost like 65 pounds

    • I really wish I could pick my obsessions — then I could have a useful obsession like your friend. Instead, I seem drawn to any activity that keeps my behind firmly planted in my computer chair. Sigh.

      • I have the same problem that keeps me from exercizing. I did wlak/run with my poodle for half a mile though. So, not a complete waste before I got into this chair.

        • Going for a walk with a poodle is never a waste of time. Poodles, incidentally, are my absolute favourite breed of dog, so kudos for having such good taste πŸ˜€

  12. I’ve had several games eat up my life. I first started with Ultima Online, then went to Dark Age of Camelot, and then worked my way to WoW. I also lost myself on a Neverwinter Nights persistent world server. Got so bad about it that I called in sick to work several times just so I could keep playing. That’s how ugly my MMO obsession had gotten.

    But eventually one day after Wrath of the Lich King came out and I got to level 85 with my main character I simply became … tired. Tired of the grind. Tired of the same thing day in and day out. Tired of getting up to the top only to realize that once the next expansion would come out I’d have to do it all over again. Grind away for levels. Grind away for mats, Grind away for achievements. Grind away for better equipment. Grind away for pets and mounts. Grind, grind, grind.

    It got boring, tedious, and — most of all — pointless.

    I’d ask myself what was I doing it all for. Did it make me a better writer? Did it earn me monetary gains? Did it get me anything besides the alteration of the data on a digital avatar that resided on a server in a computer that ran a game that sometimes gave me more headaches then joy? All the answers were a resounding “no” and because of it I pulled fully away from the MMO life.

    This didn’t mean that I pulled away from computer games though. I just don’t touch anything multi-player that gives placebo awards for playing longer.

    I did end up getting obsessed with the Dragon Age games enough that I did read and write fanfiction and joined a DA roleplaying forum. I have and read the Dragon Age books and have been keeping up with the latest comic book releases. This obsession, however, was different from my MMO one as this one got my imagination going and got me to doing something WoW never did … it got me to writing.

    Some obsessions are okay to have, but everything in moderation. If your obsession is getting in the way of your goals in life then it’s time for an intervention and possibly going cold turkey on it. If your obsession is actually helping you be creative, then do continue, just mind how much time you’re spending on it.

    Do things like give yourself a cut off time. Tell your guild or whoever you play with the moment you get on that, “Hey, I need to leave at 2 o’clock my time so can you poke me and shoo me away when that time comes around? I really need to get other things done.” Let them become part in helping you cut back and don’t let them strong arm you into staying online. I know for a fact that can sometimes be the hardest thing to fight is your WoW friends begging you to stay.

    Don’t let them do it. Put your foot down, tell them and yourself that the game is still going to be there when you get back. It’s not going anywhere, but you’ll end up going nowhere in life if you don’t hit that log off button.

    Hope this helps (says the “expert” who is currently obsessed with Grimm and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

    • Excellent advice! Luckily (unluckily?) I’m currently living with my mother, due to my extreme state of not having any money, so I have her to nag me whenever I’m at my computer for too long. And she’s an absolute pro at guilting me into accomplishing things.

      Also, FMA rocks. My brother’s trying to get me to re-watch it with him. I’m currently denying him, on the grounds that we just finished watching it for the first time in May. We need to wait at least 6 months before re-watching!

  13. RBH

    Nerds are cool. So are geeks. I love Naruto (read the manga myself) but my computer game obsession was The Sims and Mass Effect. I gave up most of it for my writing… MOST not all.

    • Nerds are cool, aren’t they? I’m glad I was born in a time where this is the case — according to my mother and Hollywood, this wasn’t always the case. And I was totally into the Sims, until I bought all the expansions and my computer crashed.

  14. Well, I lately I think I’m blogging far too much πŸ™‚ I need to be job hunting. So, I know what you mean. An obsessive personality could be good for writing, so long as you’re, you know, writing! Maybe you should let it runs its course, like you said. And then, soon enough, you’ll back on track!

  15. Yannis Vatis

    I get obsessed over many things, from tiny details to big things. I think I might be OCD, but I digress. I thought Naruto was awesome before the Shippuden era (minus the year and a half long filler arc). It always just felt that they should have gone in a different direction with the whole Sasuke thing. WoW is always a clear and ever-present danger for me and MoP even more so. I love Asian themes!

    My current obsession is the guitar. I’ve had this gorgeous black Epiphone Les Paule Studio for 5 years now but I never actually learned to play. Now I’ve finally buckled down and the nicer the sounds come out the more I want to keep plucking away.

    • Yeah, Sasuke in Shippuden drives me crazy. It’s like … dude, chill. Avenging never does anyone any good. I went through a guitar phase about a year ago, while I was in South Korea — I even had my mom ship me a “how to play guitar” book. But I only got a few pages in before the first string broke, and then a few more pages before the next string went. By the time I lost the third string, I had to conclude that I simply wasn’t meant to play the guitar, lol.

      • Yannis Vatis

        I’ve been going through these phases for all the 5 years I’ve owned my guitar. I’ll be doing my best for a few days and then I’ll just hang my head in shame admitting defeat. Now I feel I’m on a better path since I got a friend tutoring me. The trick for me is to slow myself down and stop expecting that I will be Hendrix in a few days. Just relax and enjoy the journey no matter how long it takes.

        • So true! It’s always more fun / easier to do something when a friend is helping you. I just recently started an exercise regime with my best friend, and it’s going great so far, because I can’t wimp out a skip a session!

  16. My obsession is reading, reading, and reading some more. I can’t stop. I have to limit myself. I tell myself,”Okay, at 11:00 p.m, I’m done”. But then I get caught up in my book, and the next thing I know, it’s 11:45 p.m! Books can be incredibly distracting! For a writer spending her days reading and not writing, that’s horrible! Yet I can’t stop. My love for reading is the reason for my love of writing, I guess…

    • There are worse obsessions to have πŸ˜€ Keep reading!

    • Yannis Vatis

      Read as though your life depends on it, I say! I encourage page-turners all over the world to keep doing what they are doing. I salute you, my lady.

  17. brokeartist

    Okay, I’ll admit it. Final Fantasy. No kidding. Final Fantasy VIII and X. On ten I had more than 120 hours logged at one time. Call me a mature player. πŸ™‚

  18. Pingback: Final Tally = 11 Days « Michelle Proulx Official

  19. Pingback: Procrastination Station | The Official Site of Celeste DeWolfe

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