The A-typical (and Type A) writer


(oops! created this as a page instead of a post)

I heard a great piece on NPR about the link between writers and various types of mental illnesses (especially depression). It must have been good because they played it (at least) twice in the last few years. (I think you can still hear it through the archives.) Anyway, they said that writers have the highest incidence of mental illness of all professions, but then asked the chicken or egg question. (They also said the poets have the highest incidence of depression among writers. Again, chicken or egg?) Anyway, the piece was fascinating for a variety of reasons. For me, it made me realize that as a full-time working writer (I make my living as a writer. It’s not a hobby.), I am quite atypical. Not only am I not depressed, but I am borderline OCD. 


I am extremely organized, goal-oriented, fast-paced and probably fit more of the stereotype of an editor than a writer. Still, I do consider myself creative and I write very, very fast. So I do have some components of the typical writer (creative, artsy, enjoy alone time).


Obviously, the creativity is very important to my career. But I also think that the borderline OCD is what makes me most functional and earns me the income I make. After I all, on a typical day I could be juggling work for 5 or 6 clients, taking phone calls, answering emails, and throwing in a couple personal details – like paying bills, dealing with insurance or a sick kid, laundry, planning dinner, etc. 


So, is anyone willing to share something similar? Are you the “typical” writer (quoting the radio story); introverted, creative, depressed and/or ???


Or are you more like me: high-energy, organized, sometimes anxious, goal-oriented, driven, multi-tasking? FYI, I am not claiming this is better – just better for me. I think it’s what makes me successful as a writer. I also think it can be very different for men/women, parents vs. nonparents, introverts vs. extroverts.



4 responses »

  1. Boy, I wish I was more like you! Especially the high energy, organized part! Thankfully, I don’t suffer from depression and do consider myself very creative. I can be very focused on my work, especially when I’m under deadline and make sure to strike a balance between writing for pleasure, writing for clients and writing to market my coaching, facilitation and speaking side of the business. Sometimes I get lucky and all three converge!

    At the very least, I try to leverage at least two of those areas so that I’m not recreating the wheel. Ex: If I write a blog post (which I enjoy), I’ll twitter the link, possibly forward it out to friends or colleagues who aren’t yet on my blog/newsletter subscriber list and then insert the piece into my growing file for an upcoming book. Does that qualify me as being organized? I hope so!

  2. I am happy, depressed, OCD, and relaxed. I think I may also have multiple personalities!

  3. I swing both ways (this sounds funny). I can be very productive and organized at certain times then swing into bouts of depression –the slit your wrists type. makes good stuff for morbid poetry –jagged edges of glass and all that.

    You’re lucky you’re creative and super organized and driven at the same. Me, I need to get my daily shot of outside motivation, bottle it up in a syringe, squeeze my eyes shut and plunge that needle in. I used to get very depressed before I discovered personal development. I’d doodle in pages of suicidal poetry, aimless wanderings and pondering on my worthless existence. I felt I had no purpose at all and wondered why I still live. It was really bad. 😦

    I can’t multi-task and can only focus on one thing at a time.

    Do you have the link to the NPR piece? Would love to hear it.

  4. I am a writer and I have OCD and depression. I love being alone and avoid people and social gatherings at all costs. I fake my way through pleasant conversation with other people to appear normal, especially since my day job brings me into contact with loads of people. I stay up late, sometimes until 4 am just to enjoy alone time to write. I love my husband, my kids (all 4 of them) and my mom- all of whom reside with me in my house, but when it comes to others outside my home- I would rather just not be involved with them at all. I consider myself very creative, but I am terrible with organization by any ‘normal’ standards. I call my organization system “chaotic organization”- I’m a clutterbug and a hoarder, but I know where everything is! I live pretty happily in the sanctuary of the fictional worlds that I create, but am anxious and dysfunctional when I am forced to leave the comfort of my chair & laptop.

    I wish I had gotten some of the more organized traits of OCD- I think super organized, cleanfreak would be so much better than cluttered, anxious and perpetually late! Ah well, we can’t all be Donald Trump I guess (I heard he has OCD too). You sound pretty together though, so maybe there is hope for the rest of us?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s