Creative Writing: Follow Your Obsessions

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Follow the white rabbit

I was talking to a friend the other day about one of the most important pieces of creative writing advice I’ve ever heard:

Follow your obsessions.

I’m definitely a person who gets obsessed with things. If you’ve ever sat through 8 hours of Dr. Who episodes or stayed up all night reading Harry Potter or you were depressed for two weeks after the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones, you know what I’m talking about.

There’s a lot of talk about fan fiction and whether or not it has any validity. I think fan fiction is great because it gives people a chance to follow their obsessions. If you weren’t happy with the werewolf imprinting on the baby vampire in Breaking Dawn, you can write a whole new version for yourself. If you’re obsessed with Jack Skelington, you can write an epic story where he travels to New York city and gets stuck in Central Park. Often, fan fiction authors go on to write other original stories (50 Shades of Grey anyone? The Mortal Instruments series? Both of these came from fan fiction authors.)

Find what it is you are obsessed with and allow yourself to daydream. Allow yourself to fantasize. Start writing stories just for yourself. Because you’ve always loved your history teacher and sometimes you imagine what he was like as a teenager. Because you are obsessed with Dark Side of the Moon and you want to write a story that makes you feel what you feel when you listen to it. Whatever it is, figure it out, and go with it.

Do not judge or psychoanalyze your obsessions. Who knows why we are into the things we are into? In the world of creativity, there are no limits. Let yourself like what you like and give yourself the chance to write about it.

Do not worry about what other people will think. Let yourself write and tell yourself it’s just for you. If something really great comes out of it, then awesome! You can show people if you want to. But following your obsessions is just about finding what makes you excited, what makes you tick, what makes you want to create.

When I wrote the play, Painted, in undergrad, I became so obsessed with the Muse characters, Vincent and Izabella, that I found myself wanting to spend more time with them. I toyed around with other projects that I thought might be more “accessible” for a while but it wasn’t until I returned to Vincent and Izabella that I was able to complete a novel. Because I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop writing. I couldn’t let those characters and that story die inside of me.

Find your obsessions and then just let yourself go. Let yourself dream. Let yourself fall down the rabbit hole. You might just find that it will lead you to the story you’ve always wanted to write.

11 thoughts on “Creative Writing: Follow Your Obsessions

    • Exactly! I think fanfiction is great for this reason. I don’t really understand authors who are against people writing fanfiction about characters or worlds that they have created, especially when they aren’t trying to make money off of it. I would be incredibly excited if someone wanted to write their own story about characters I had created!

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