Me and OCD

I joke so often about my OCD tendencies that I forget a lot of people probably don’t realize this about me. If you know me at all you’ve probably picked up on some of my quirks, but I’m always surprised when a friend discovers just how ingrained these compulsions are.

Some background: I’ve always been rather… particular… about how things are arranged and the order I do things (can you say morning routine?), but I don’t check the oven twenty times before leaving the house or anything like that.

It was recently brought to my attention that I’m unable to not finish something, which sounds like a good thing until you realize that means I won’t start something if I think there’s a chance I won’t be able to finish. I don’t read books unless I’m certain I’ll like them, because there’s no way I’m stopping once I get started. I think I’ve put down three books in my life. I can only think of one movie I’ve turned off (Bruno) and if I fall asleep while watching one, I’ll usually finish it the next day.

Where this becomes a problem is with my writing. As I mentioned last week, I’ve come up with a new idea, but what I didn’t tell you is how terrified I always am that I’ll never come up with another one. My friend Erica helped me brainstorm, then gave me the wonderful advice to start writing it, and just stop if I don’t like where it’s going.

Come again?

I stared at her open-mouthed, collecting my thoughts. “I can’t do that,” I finally admitted.

And my secret was out. I’ve written three novels and have come up with a total of seven ideas — including books two and three of my trilogy and the latest one. Lots of thoughts whisper through my mind, but I don’t consider them an actual IDEA unless I can see it through to the end.

I don’t expect anyone else to share this quirk, but do you have a personality trait that challenges your writing?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. I think finishing what you start is a good quirk to have! I have a problem with starting to write. I can’t unless I feel like I’ll have two complete hours to work on it. I can’t imagine writing for only 30 minutes, it doesn’t seem like enough time.

    • I struggle with that too, but when I only have a very short period of time, I drastically shorten my goal. If I only have 30 minutes, I only aim for a couple paragraphs — maybe a page tops. More times than not I’ll write more than that, but if I don’t, at least I’ve moved the story forward.

  2. Nothing wrong with a quirk. As you know I have many weird things. I kiss the top of my car when I run a yellow light. Someone did it once and said it was for good luck and now I can’t stop, been doing it for as long as I can remember! I can’t wait to read you latest story ;o)

  3. If I start writing fiction, be it a Nano novel or a short story, I can’t tell anyone too many details about the plot. If I do, the energy goes out of the story and I don’t want to finish it. I have stories I occasionally work on *for years* this way.

    • I’m the same way. I tend to tell a couple close writing friends to make sure the idea is valid, but I won’t share publicly until it’s very far along. I don’t think I even said here what Flicker was about until I finished the first draft!

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