Archive for the compulsions Category

Confessions of a Communication Junkie

Two recent—and unnerving—events made me realize I’m a bit of communication addict. First, I took my old laptop to the shop to add more RAM and the counter person told me it would take about two hours. I went home cooked and ate dinner, then waited for the call. By eight o’clock, I was jumping out of my skin. When I called to ask about it, the tech guy said my laptop wouldn’t be ready until the next afternoon. My heart rate escalated, I started to hyperventilate, and it was all I could do not to yell at him. The idea of being without my computer for a day was horrifying! I already felt like I had been walking around without arms for four hours.

But it was the second incident that made me realize what more specifically what I was hooked on. Two days ago, I received a text while nearing a stoplight (that familiar little beep) and glanced over at my phone to see who it was. I nearly got into a minor fender bender. It was an alarming realization that I’m addicted to communication, particularly, the incoming type. Hearing from friends, readers, and discussion groups (and occasionally publishers and production companies)—at steady intervals throughout the day—is like a stream of endorphins…or little hits of feel-good. Those communications come in various forms; emails, tweets, Facebook/Google posts, blog comments, texts, and phone calls; but almost all are satisfying… and thus addictive.

When I haven’t heard from anyone in awhile, I start to feel anxious and a little bit lonely. Considering that awhile might only mean twenty minutes, I realize the situation has become a little needy and weird.

Admitting I have a problem is the first step, but what to do next? I have no intention of cutting myself off from friends and readers. But I have started turning off my phone when I’m driving and I think I’ll start closing the internet for periods of time when I’m writing. It will be uncomfortable at first—withdrawal always is—but I think it will be mentally healthy in the long run.

Having friends online keeps people like me (who work at home) sane, but the abundance of social networking opportunities and the convenience of cell phones may have tipped the balance too far. So I’m going to practice doing something I used to be good at: being alone and happy in my own thoughts.

Anyone else with this problem? An anecdotes you’d like to share?

Listmaking vs. Goofing Off

As I drank a second cup of coffee and made a specific list of things to do today, my husband said, “Why don’t you take a day off? You know, just goof off for the whole day.” I rolled my eyes (while he laughed hysterically), then went back to my listmaking—which I may have taken to a new level.

First, there’s the life-quest master list, with all the big ideas like: Make the NY Times bestseller list, lose 7 pounds, be nicer to the husband. Nothing comes off the list until it’s accomplished. “Quit smoking” was on the list for 10 years (scratched it off 15 years ago!), and “Lose 7 pounds” has been there since college. (Maybe a nasty bout of food poisoning will eventually take care of that.)

Then there’s the ongoing writing/promoting/career list with things like: “Create a master list of character descriptions” and “Create and post a book discussion guide” (still haven’t done that). Then there’s the daily list of every little thing for that day, such as: blog, bike ride, work on novel, update website, water flowers before they die, have sex. Often there’s a fourth list of things to do while I’m out and about: bank, haircut, post office, Fred Myer. That list may include a list of things to buy at FM, or I may have a fifth little post-it note on my wallet that says: decaf, mints, meaties.

I also have lists for: books to read, blogging ideas, nonfiction article ideas, novel ideas, places to visit, websites to check out, editors, publishers, agents, and more.

So now you’re thinking, “That is truly anal.” And you are truly right.

But I get things done.

So back to my original thought: Have I ever goofed off for a whole day when I wasn’t on vacation in some place other than my home? Actually, no, I haven’t. Can I do it?

No, not a whole day.

But I recognize the need to occasionally have fun. (On vacation, I go all out and don’t even answer my phone. Scroll to the bottom of the page and see the photos for proof. ) But maybe I can sneak in a little fun now and then between vacations. But the only way it’s gonna happen is if I put it on the “must-do-today list.” Maybe I’ll give that try . . . when I get through list number 2.

PS: Did anyone notice that I didn’t use cleaning as an example on my lists? (See blog title.)
Is anyone else a compulsive listmaker? Are there support groups for the addiction?

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