Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Friday, May 9, 2008

I love the writer psychology pieces on Buzz, Balls & Hype. This week's is about how to control an over-active imagination. The querier says:

My novelistic abilities are making me crazy. The very thing that enables me to be a writer is torturing me in real life. I find that I am projecting my imagination onto already stressful situations and making them almost untenable.

I do this a lot, and if you are a creative type, you may, too. It took a long time to realize that not everyone does it. I think my mom and brother do it, but not my husband or other brother. I wasn't truly able to release my paralyzing anxiety until I recognized the problem. It's too easy to walk through my day in a dream state, with unfocused (or too focused) images taking precedence over what is right in front of me: a book, a chore, a child. It really is enough to drive a person crazy. Coincidentally, my husband and I established last night that only I am allowed to question my sanity.

I know one thing, I'd be a lot happier without the g-d writer's mind. After the birth of my son, images of horror were uncontrollable and rampant. Images, and sometimes entire scenes, would superimpose on reality. Accidentally dropping a knife on him, our family dog turning rabid and ripping him apart, him burning to death in front of my eyes, really horrible stuff. Eventually I recognized that I was suffering from serious post-partum depression, as similar stories surfaced over the intervening years, but still...I wonder if it was made worse by my powerful imagination. I wonder if they've ever done a tally of the jobs held by the sufferers of post-partum depression.

Anyhoo, now that I've gone in a completely different direction than I planned... Don't worry, my son is six, and the things I described in the previous paragraph have been over for a long time. Though never as intense or horrible since (the thoughts have been expanded to include good stuff), they are still distracting. Over the past year or so I've gotten much better at recognizing when my thoughts fall in that pattern, and as the Practical Vampire Slayer says, when you bring vampires into the light, they lose their power.

Go read the article.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I've had similar experiences in the past. It was like dreaming while awake. I don't think I'm all that creative, but I sort of know what you're talking about, when images seem to superimpose over reality. There were moments it was hard to tell the difference.

    Oh, btw, insane people never question their sanity. Only sane people do. :)

  2. Girl, I'm so glad you're back. You don't know how much I've missed you around here. Hope to yahoo witcha soon!

  3. Hm - you've missed me almost as much as I've missed you. Almost. ;) Yahoo this weekend maybe! I know your schedule's different, but we'll work something out. >:D<

  4. Oh gosh Sherri I had the exact same thing when Maddie was born and I was scared to death to tell anyone about it. Finally I carefully told a friend (sponsor in AA) about it and then started to feel better, but I remember many years ago having a counselor describe me as "a creative thinker." She said I had a price to pay for this -- that my thinking was exciting but double-edged, just as you say here.

    I'll take the double edge. And for me, asking for guidance is really helpful there, too -- I mean guidance on my thinking so it doesn't hurt me, you know?

    Thanks for mentioning my name. I feel so cool.

    love, claud

  5. Funny you should bring this up because when I was younger, and sometimes now, I would imagine finding out that some loved one was dead and what my reaction would be. This would happen a lot, and I decided it must be some kind of preparation on my part in case I ever lost the person. Sometimes I would imagine gruesome scenes happening to my classmates in school too. I also imagine conversations with people. All sorts of things that don't really happen. However, I rarely let my mind wander about my characters, and I know why - If I did that and I could not go sit down and write, I would feel so tortured. I would feel like I was missing some good writing opportunity, and I would hate it. So, while I do work things out in my mind sometimes when I'm away from the computer, I mostly save my characters lives for the mornings when I sit down to visit them.

  6. It's what I started calling "having a relationship in my head". You have all the fights, snarkiness, anger, funerals and what not without ever leaving the comfort of your own skull. But you suffer just as much, and they don't have a clue what you are made about because it never happened!

  7. Wyrdd, that's funny because it's so true! With dreams, too.

    Shelli, that "preparation" angle is something mentioned in the article. Thing is, you can prepare for things without living the horror.

    Claud, I think I had such bad PPD after my son and not my daughters because of my circumstances. Very isolated and oppressed at home, and felt completely alone. It definitely helps to have someone to talk to. (and btw, you ARE cool :) )


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