What Is Your Worst Habit?

Yesterday I wrote about my ongoing querying of literary agents and how researching their backgrounds prior to submitting your manuscript to them, is the acceptable face of online stalking. It was a tongue in cheek piece, as most of my writing is, but there was a serious message wrapped up inside the frivolity. That being, the obsessive behaviour which fuels the mind of a stalker.

I have OCD and an obsessive personality. I have no filter, no brake, no off switch. I can easily become fixated with activities and even people. This is exacerbated by a complete lack of self awareness when it comes to this particular character trait. I am unaware of my behaviour, in fact I rationalise that it is completely normal and those raising the alarm to me are the killjoys and bores.

This obsessive streak can be explained away as having a stubborn streak or being ultra single minded and determined. Which, in themselves, are admirable characteristics. You need these to run marathons. You need them to carve out a reasonably successful career in my chosen fiend. You need them to slave away at your novel for over a year until it is finally complete.

It’s a double sided coin, however. It’s not so admirable when you become obsessed with running, or paragliding, or base jumping. These activities are designed to be a release from the daily grind, as opposed to becoming the grind itself. They become destructive and counter productive when they drag you away from your core values and the people and pursuits who truly matter.

We become ensnared by these pastimes, they become our raison d’etre. They possess and consume us. They same can be said of online activity. I admit I spend far too much time online, trying to build the blog and related social media platforms. I know it is a necessary evil to pursue my writing dream, but I often need Fionnuala to remind me that I also have a wife and three kids who supersede all my other responsibilities.

This weakness has led me down all sorts of nasty rabbit holes in the past. I cultivated unhealthy online habits which damaged both myself and those I love. I became secretive and distant. Thankfully my current online incarnation is founded upon transparency and accountability. This affords me a safety net should I ever feel the urge to slip back into old habits. I’m learning to police myself again and, in doing so, trust myself again.

Any habit is hard to shake. I bite my nails, drink too much Diet Coke and the list goes on. I’ll never be a hand model but I do recycle all my empty cans and bottles. There are worse habits to have, I glibly inform people whenever I am challenged on these. And, indeed there are. But it’s a warning to always be on my guard. Old habits die hard. They are always lurking, waiting to pounce. The demon that is OCD is never far away.

I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs. I’m a boring, middle aged husband and father. I don’t attract a second glance on my daily commute to and from work. None of us do. We are normal. Oh, but if only they knew. If only they knew the dormant madness that lies within. Just waiting for it’s opportunity to be unleashed and wreak havoc on our carefully constructed worlds. If only….

What are your bad habits?

Does madness lurk within you?

35 thoughts on “What Is Your Worst Habit?

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  1. Hi. Thanks for this. Interesting Topic and appreciate reading of Your Ways to combat.

    As for i,Shiro… Cigar Smoker, atypical Mediterranean fiery Temper also so much to do, so lil’ Time… impatient.
    From Our World Legends… it seems…

    We All Have…
    such maddening Ways… Each to their Own.
    Take Care. Till next…

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  2. Oh goodness!! What a great post. My madness keeps pace with me at a steady gallop every day. 😊 Doubt, depression, and impatience can be my undoing when I’m not constantly vigilant with them and doing all I can to keep them at bay. It can sometimes feel like a full time job!

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  3. Bad habit is always reading and conversing on social media in my phone. I do at least put it down when out to have a coffee. I should start using my phone as only a phone or texting machine plus camera. It’s hard.

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  4. I admire your honesty. I see myself in many of the things you say. I have an obsessive personality, that is, I can’t let things go. For instance, leave a room the way you found it. Close the shower curtain. Put the dishes in the dishwasher not in the sink. It seems silly but I find myself ruminating about these ridiculous things and I feel justified in doing so. I’m a work in progress. I’ve learned many ways to let things go and allow them to be. I give myself permission to not try to control everything around me. Everything is not my job to fix.

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  5. So what is the limit you’ve put on your stalking of literary agents? If there is no limit for which you can be held accountable, there’s the potential pitfall of obsessive rationalization (“just one more . . . just one more . . . just one more”), which will serve only to procrastinate the day of publication.

    As many others have already suggested in comments, it may be more worth your effort to directly approach small publishers that accept un-agented manuscripts (still always on guard against “just one more” thinking). Be sure they are genuine publishers that earn their income from sales of your book, not “vanity” presses, which charge fees to publish.

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  6. Just how boring would this world be if we all prescribed to someone else’s definition of normal? Some people need to feed the beast within while others should really let sleeping dogs lie. But I certainly can’t tell someone else what to do that make them feel alive and fulfilled. My journey is going to take paths and turns that others will find unappealing. Such is life. Your reply to Carol, complete with emoji made me laugh. Thanks.

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  7. “We’re all mad here…” Lewis Carrol

    I am crap about drinking enough water. One might think, having had the indescribable joy of having a kidney stone the size of a marble blown up within said kidney, this would not be an issue. One would be wrong.
    I get totally twisted when books, heaven help us – DVDs aren’t in alphabetical order, within their genre. Do you know how little a visiting toddler Grandson cares if ‘Wreck it Ralph’ is placed in with “Despicable Me? Less than a politician cares about keeping most of their promises.

    Here’s the take away – we learn. We start figuring out when we’re triggered, either into compulsively answering e-mails and comments, or ignoring them or whatever our bug-a-bear is. When we’re really lucky, we have someone who stands next to us and reminds us of what’s truly important. And then, we forgive ourselves with the same compassion that we’d give our beloved, and move forward.

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  8. Wow it’s quite amazing how well you know yourself and your flaws, your analysis was so well crafted!
    I think my main flaw is that I am so terrified of conflict that I am a chameleon, always adapting to others and losing myself in the process. I am so scared that people will be mad at me that I can’t speak my mind at all and if someone does me wrong instead of explaining and discussing and finding a solution, which terrifies me, I will just cut them from my life

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  9. Hating clutter is my obsession to name one 😊. We all have an overload of something that drives us up the wall. I know my family wonder what’s the big fuss is about but they get it thank goodness. Again great blog. Blessings.

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  10. We certainly all have bad habits. You know what mine is? Saying “no” when I could say “yes.” My time is quite scheduled and precious to me, so I tend to say no to things that interfere with that. I’m working on making more time especially for my youngest son and in being more flexible in general. It’s tough.

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