Where do you draw the very fine line between being dedicated to something you’re doing and being obsessed with it? As a writer, that line is razor thin. My writing is my art and my heart. It is what I feel in my soul that I must do. This is not an optional task for me, it is a critical part of who and what I am. But having just spent a weekend where my little ones were away for a few days and I was alone at home, I realized today I literally did NOTHING but write. Did I cross the line?
Let’s turn to our friends at Miriam Webster.
Obsession: the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
Dedication: devotion wholly and earnestly, as to some person or purpose
Here’s the key difference between the two in my mind—dedication is when YOU CHOOSE to invest yourself in the project at hand. Obsession is when that project is in your mind no matter what else you want to do.
Well, I’m not liking that comparison because quite honestly I can’t shake the characters I’m currently working on. Crap. One point for Obsession
Let’s try another tactic here.
Obsession is associated with stalking to me. It is the state of being where you cannot shake the object of your obsession. Dedication is being determined to see a project through to its completion.
This isn’t much better, because I think 48 hours of writing sounds like I couldn’t shake it. The diagnosis isn’t looking good. Is there nothing in my favor?
One thing. I did it while I was alone for the weekend. I made the conscious choice to spend my weekend in my art. I did it responsibly.
Oh dear, it’s a “grown-up” word. I hate those. But I just won my argument I think. The real difference between the two is are you commiting yourself to something and disregarding your responsibilities, your obligations, your life? Or are you taking care of business FIRST, then giving in to what you really want to do?
In life it is a wonderful thing to feel passionately about something. For me it is writing. For others it could be anything. No matter what it is that really moves you, what is important is maintaining the ability to put it in its place so that it doesn’t interfere with your life as a whole. Now there are those who will say pursuing your passions SHOULD BE your life. And I think money shouldn’t exist we should all just magically have what we need. Communism rocks! NOT! In reality we cannot spend 100% of our time on one thing. And would you really want to? Moderation is a beautiful thing. Embrace it. Let your passions touch every aspect of your life, but don’t let them BECOME your life.
So was spending a 48 hour period doing nothing but writing dedication to my craft or obsession with my characters? I’m not entirely certain. I can tell you it was productive as hell, but now it is time for me to go read a story to my kids. Because as much as I love my craft, I love my children more.