Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sarah’s writing problem

Sarah, your comments about your writing problems cover a very common area of OCD for many sufferers.  As you can imagine, many people have dropped out of school as the result of these issues.  Some of the approaches you have tried, we would not expect to work.  For example, timers.  The problem with simply limiting time is that you try to still do the work perfectly, but faster.  You’ve already discovered this is impossible.  If we are going to use a timer, it also has to be coupled with exposure.  For example, if an individual takes long showers, we would also have them take a wrong shower on purpose, that is, they would know that they weren’t perfectly clean. 

There are a number of steps you can take along these lines.  First of all, it is critical to purposely write rough drafts with mistakes and poor wording.   Almost everyone with the writing problem hates doing this and gets caught up in writing very good first drafts.  This may be difficult, but this, because it isn’t the final draft, you could give yourself permission to do this.  If you won’t start doing this for school work, then give yourself a writing assignment; e.g., writing a short story with a horrible first draft for practice.  Second, a step you can do now, is before handing in a paper, make sure to put in mistakes.  Have a mispelled word on every page and one piece of poor punctuation.  Even if this lowered your grade, it would be worth it to start to overcome your OCD.  Part of the decision you are making is to give up on perfect papers.  Some famous writer once said that you never finish writing a novel, you just stop writing.  Obvously, there is more that you can do along these lines.  I would still have many questions about what it means to you to have imperfect writing.  Within your answers are other exposures and possibilities that you need to face.  For instance, some sufferers with this problem would be concerned with how this would make them look to others or that if they aren’t good in this area, they have nothing.  I hope this gives you a bit of a start.