Thursday 3 February 2011

Poetry is giving me a mental illness and cramps. Is there such a thing as POCD (Poet's Obsessive Compulsive Disporder)?

I'm an unhealthy writer as of late. Last night was the final straw. I have to get myself away from the computer! I'm totally addicted to poetry, and I'm giving myself cramps!

First, I woke up around midnight, after being asleep for maybe only an hour with a crazy need to write a poem. Thank God for the notepad and pencil by my bed. But I didn't just write one poem, I wrote four.

Then I couldn't sleep, because I couldn't stop thinking about how I was going to edit them the next day. When I did fall asleep (at 1am), I had a dream about a poem. I wrote it in my sleep, recited it over and over while I was sitting in an electric chair, my mother standing over me, giving me a lecture about something I couldn't hear because I was reciting the poem over and over while she was speaking.

Then I woke up. At 4:30am. I couldn't get back to sleep. Had a horrible cramp in my side. So I got up. And you know the first thing I did? I typed up the poems, and edited them, and made them into precious gems, that I'm going to read over and over all day and wonder if I have any more in me, or whether I can remember the poem I wrote and recited in my dream. HELP!

I can't even go out and take a walk to clear my head. It's raining fat cats and dogs. Well ... wish me luck guys ... pray I don't write myself to death over the weekend ...

Do you ever become obsessive about your writing that you fear you might be doing yourself psychological damage?


  1. I as a poet always think is that event or person turn into a poem.
    stupid things really, I once wrote a poem about a garden pea.

    I think it will pass but then again I hav e been writing poetry for 13 years and still as mad as

    Have a nice day.


  2. I've had that problem occasionally, dreaming about something I needed to write so passionately that it eventually woke me up. It doesn't happen a lot anymore, probably because I work so early in the day that I am always exhausted by the time I go to bed.

  3. Oh the mind of a writer!!! We're INSANE!!! But you know, we all *get* it, so to us, you're normal :)

  4. Not so bad I lose sleep over it. I treasure my sleep.

  5. Uhm... I've been writing in uncontrollable bursts of thousands of words...

    Yes... totally brag-worthy, but I'm worried about burning out. Still... If I start, I can't stop.


  6. A little. I tend to view sleep as a waste of good time. You were up at 4:30, well I was up at 2:00 because I went to sleep with my mind buzzing and that's bad because I usually sleep for an hour and a half and then want to get up to keep on which is what I ended up doing because lying in bed not sleeping is really a waste of time.

  7. I would never call myself a poet, but I have written one or two. There is something about the rhythm of poetry that holds you captive. Once you've started, they just keep coming.

  8. I took a creative writing class in college that focused on poetry. After a certain point, my brain attuned to the poetic--and yes, it was a little psychotic.

  9. You are on a flow my dear, so we have locked you in your ivory tower and thrown away the key.

    Did you do your excercises today? Tell me about it, I have a wonderful beach right in front of me I could be walking.

  10. I have this problem sometimes, too. I've had story ideas wake me up in the middle of the night. So many times I can't get to sleep because I'm thinking about my writing. One day last week, I had an idea for a poem hit me while I was driving, and I had to write it right then! (And I did, too, while driving down the road.)

  11. When creativity gushes out of you like that -- especially the healing sort -- I call it magical. Go with it! We can all catch up on our sleep when we' know, not to be morbid or anything, but, not so alive anymore. And that dream of you in the electric chair -- that's fodder for poetry if I ever heard it!

    Write on, sistah!

  12. Be gentle with yourself and make sure you pace yourself in that you look after yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. That means taking time out. The material you are working with in much of your poetry is deep, painful and traumatic and it will bring up symptoms, responses, thoughts and actions. The poetry is a good way to express what is within but do not forget that what you are doing is inner work and just as we need to look after ourselves when we decide to complete an 'olympian' task in a material sense, so we need to do so, perhaps even more, when we are doing the same sort of thing within.

  13. LOL. It's hard NOT to become obsessive when things are flowing. Ride the wave while it lasts! :-)

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  15. The idea came to me in a dream.

    I remembered it the next day.

    For six, non-stop sixteen hour a day, weeks, I wrote the novel.

    For two weeks, I edited.

    I entered ABNA.

    I burned out.

    I'm alive again.

    Need I say more.


  16. I'm glad I'm not the only crazy one... Kidding!

    You know. I wake up at night with an idea, and many times I really want to get up and go put it all down... but having the day job means I kind of have to sleep normal hours :( And so I write down a note to remind me and then do my best to go back to sleep - it's not always easy - but I find that when I finally do get to sleep, I'm still dreaming about that story.

  17. Hee hee. Isn't it great when the writing bug attacks (even in the middle of the night). I hope you get some sleep today Jessica!

  18. Better Poetry compulsive than writer's block! Poems used to come to me while walking in the neighborhood and I'd try and repeat it so I'd remember when I got home!

  19. oh, man, I go through crazy spells like that when I'm working on a MS. It can be a bit scary, but I usually go for a run to blow out the carbon (from the brain)--old car analogy. :D

    Rain does NOT help w/this syndrome. sorry. But hell, keep writing~ xoxo

  20. Oh yes and I get so mad at myself when I left the notepad and pencil somewhere else and I have to get up in the middle of the night and hunt it down!

  21. Atleast you something as beautiful as poetry gives you cramps...

    not Doritos like some one I know

  22. LoL ... oh my. Take a break, chickee!

    And yes, yes, YES!!!!!


  23. Yes.

    One time I had a really good idea that came to me in my sleep--one that would have taken care of numerous plot holes and made a lot of sense for the story--but when I woke up? Bam. Vanished.

  24. I'm so with you...I both love and hate it when the writing compulsion forces me to the computer or a notepad and won't let me back to my life.

    It's during those moments that I can absolutely feel the writing flow and I come away feeling very fulfilled...but those moments often come at the most inopportune times (middle of the night, in a meeting, while driving).

    Best of luck. :)

  25. Yes! I have the same problem when I'm in a writing groove. I can't sleep. At all. I have to get up and write until I exhaust myself.

    When do we get to read your creations? =)

  26. Did this happen after a lull? Sometimes it's like all the ideas that have been hovering get released at once and gush out, don't they?
    Can I recommend to all your readers that they get hold of a little voice-recording device? - Olympus do good ones - they're not expensive and are really handy for recording those ideas that come in the night or on the road!

  27. I love your poetry obsession! I used to write a ton of angsty poetry and one of my "secrets" is that a decade later, I still love a ton of what I wrote. ;)

    I can't say that I've ever been so obsessed that I've had to get up and write a poem -- though perhaps I was that way during my decade-ago angsty phase -- but I DID once tweet nothing but lines from great poems for weeks upon weeks.

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    le sigh.

  28. I say savor those moments and write till your fingernails fall off. Inspiration can be fickle and if it's flowing like that ride the wave.

  29. LOL, oh it's so easy to get obsessive about writing and poetry!

  30. Death over poetry? I can't imagine anything more poetic! Hehe. I've enjoyed peeking in at the FB poetry group you started every once in awhile. Granted, I don't have much time to peek because I'm obsessed with my own writing. It's not poetry at the moment, but novels. Sigh. I miss poetry. It was my passion in college. Please don't die, though! :)

  31. And I thought writing was supposed to be healing.

    Though I feel obsessed to write almost all the time, I haven't woken up with poems in my head yet. That sounds like a bad dream - especially after a long day of writing.

    First step to recovery - take away that pad and pencil at the side of your bed.

    xoxo Madeline

  32. I am always thinking in terms of story. Sometimes, I just wish I could watch a movie or sunset without trying to critique it, fumble it into words and create a story out of it!

    I fear for my sanity often. Especially after I wake from dreams where one of my characters tells me what I should and should not be working on...



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