Writers Be Crazy

2:35 AM Elizabeth Seckman 34 Comments

Image result for writers + insanity quotes

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Years and years ago, I was whining about some injustice in my life and my best friend informed me of the age-old rule-- writers must suffer. 

Anguish and madness seem to be the accessories that set off creativity like the right brooch makes a plain blouse pop. The greater the degree of madness, the greater the creative output. 

Need examples? Here's just a short list of sufferers off the top of my head...

Sylvia Plath...suicidal
Ernest Hemingway...alcohol; suicidal
Edgar Alan Poe...drug abuser
Virginia Woolf...suicide
Truman Capote...alcoholic; recluse
Leo Tolstoy...depression

Now, I was in my teens when my friend informed me of this writing rule. I should have grabbed the first exit off the Novel Highway, but we all know writing is its own addiction, and I wasn't going to veer from my path. So, when life gets crazy, I remind myself, I asked for this. 

Suffering is fodder for a story later. 


This month's insecurity? Being too busy to remember crap. My mother has been ill, so that means more hospital visits and care-taker duties. Pair that with the holidays, and I have an inbox of 2000+ unread messages. I know 1,950 of them are spam and garbage, but I need to wade through them to get to the good stuff. And anytime I am overwhelmed, I always have that fear of forgetting-- like that age-old dream of showing up for a test in your pajamas. 

Geesh, I hate that feeling! 

Then a few weeks ago, I missed a Facebook takeover. I'd been at the ER with my mom and just completely forgot to check my calendar and totally blew it. 

I hate it when that happens. Screw up once and then suffer a year's worth of insecurity that you're missing something important. 

So, what about you? Feel crazy when you're overwhelmed, or just crazy in general?

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting!


  1. Happy New Year Elizabeth, enjoyed the post.
    Hope all your dreams gets realised.


  2. Happy New Year, Liz and congratulations on winning a spot in the Anthology! I'm stoked for you. You're right when you said Writers Be Crazy. Most of us are at least one can short of a six-pack. :) Some are worse than others; I might be two cans short. I'll try calling you in a few days to catch up. Love you, girl. Eva, IWSG co-host #60

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. It sounds like you're an amazing daughter - taking care of an ill parent while trying to balance everything else isn't easy.

    Great Edgar Allan Poe quote :-)

  4. Happy New Year!
    Yes, Suffering is fodder for a story later. I like to think of it as the lesson we need before we write about whatever we are planning to write.
    Congratulations on your story being included in the next anthology and all the best for 2017.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

  5. Deep breath! Just tackle one thing at a time.
    At least one good thing happened last month - you made the IWSG anthology!
    Happy 2017.

  6. I think you need to cut yourself some slack! You can't do everything, can't remember everything. Do what you can then let the rest go.

    Wishing you and your family a healthy 2017!

  7. Writers do suffer, but I'm not sure they suffer more than others. I think they just try to take that suffering and transpose it, learn from it, use it to help others. It's not the suffering that makes us crazy. It's the dealing in that suffering over and over and trying to make sense of it.

  8. Sorry to hear you've been overwhelmed. People understand when things go pear-shaped, no need to beat yourself up about missing stuff. Happy New Year :-)

  9. Well showing up in your pajamas is better than naked, unless one is into that kind of thing lol had to.

    But for all those who suffer, think of the millions who didn't and still wrote. Dumb rule.

  10. Good morning, Elizabeth. I'm sorry to hear that your mother is ill. I know how overwhelming caring for a sick parent can be. People tend to think that all artists are a bit mad and maybe we are. As for having to suffer, perhaps what they mean is we must suffer to get our art into the open. Think of it as birthing pains and not a martyrdom. I know this past year I feel like I've definitely suffered and who knows? Perhaps there are stories waiting in those moments are darkness. Right now, I'm going to ring in the new year with thoughts of easier days ahead.

    Congratulations on your spot in the Anthology! That's so exciting and I look forward to reading your story :)

    All the best,

  11. So sorry your Mom is ill! Great insecurity though, I can totally relate!
    Congratulations on winning a place in the IWSG Anthology! That should remove some of the doubts! You'll get there, remember slow and steady wins the race!
    Happy 2017!

  12. Sometimes life can threaten to drown us in its sudden storms. I pray that your mother improves and your days can become easier. Congratulations on winning the IWSG anthology.

  13. I've always hated that writers are made out to seem crazy. But...I am a little nutty. :P And I do think we suffer, just not in the tragic way that those authors did you mentioned. We suffer through writing, revising, editing, publishing, marketing. We suffer. haha

    I am sorry to hear about your mom. When things like this happen, it's perfectly acceptable to ignore everything else. But I did email you for my blog hop on the 20th. ;) If you're unable to do it, just let me know. Take care!

  14. I too am sorry to hear about your mom. I relate as I have been care-giving for my husband for a year now. He is doing a tad bit better, but he needs a watchful eye. Life has been stressful and hard. I work very hard at finding joy and happiness in life otherwise I WILL GO CRAZY. Hmmm, DO I HAVE to go through all this to become a writer???? ;-) Happy New Year!

  15. Crazy I'll give you, but you'd better not be suicidal!@! Congrats on your place in the anthology, you deserved it. Have a great New Year. Hope your mom is getting better.

  16. A FB takeover? I've never heard of that, but it sounds exciting! Along with writers, musicians and actors often have a lot of personal problems too. I think it's just an "artist" thing. I'm sorry to hear about your other and I hope you don't get too stressed from handling so much. At least your sons are pretty self-sufficient now. :)

    1. That should be: I'm sorry to hear about your mother...
      I need to work on my proofing skills. ;)

  17. I totally understand how you feel. Sometimes, when I'm overwhelmed, I end up doing nothing because I can't think of where to start with all the many things that I must do and wait, do I have all the things I must do or am I missing something? I hope things pan out well with your mother!

  18. Congrats on winning IWSG Anthology Liz! So happy for you. Writing is not an easy journey for many but not all of us have to suffer. I remember last year when Alex Cavanaugh asked that very question since he was a very happy man. Writing at the end of the day is about that creative drive inside us. It can be drawn from many things. Not just suffering. Sorry about your Mom and the forgetfulness. But life always have it's brights sparks and Happy New Year my friend. :)

  19. Overwhelmed here, raising my hand in solidarity. Having gone through several years of taking care of my mom I do understand and send my best to you and to her.

    Congratulations on the anthology win! That's wonderful. I look forward to reading the stories.

  20. Your mother being ill sounds like a very valid excuse for being absentminded. We both hope for all the best, for her, and for yourself.

    And yes, I'll admit that I write best when I'm suffering. Also, I suffer from depression. It's like the miserable, medical gift of writing... uh, yay?

  21. I read a great article about how the author suffering thing was totally debunked...in other words authors aren't more alcoholic, suicidal, etc. than the rest of the population. The great irony is of course that it's authors themselves who perpetuate the stereotype in our writings:)

  22. I struggle with worrying about forgotten things, too. It's good to know I'm not alone.
    Happy New Year, Elizabeth!
    I hope that God grants you peace, and warmth, and lots of love this year!

  23. I hope your mother will get well soon. I've been going crazy this past month myself, so overwhelmed seems almost normal now.

    Wishing you all the best in 2017!!!!

  24. You make a good point, that writing is a sort of an addiction. Since people with addictive personalities tend to be drawn to a variety of addicts, it makes sense that alot of writers tend to get hooked on various substances.

    Or maybe creative people are just crazy. :-)

  25. I sometimes try to juggle so many things that I completely forget about some of it, only to embarrassingly realize it later, after it's too late. I hate that feeling. Congrats on the anthology.

  26. Congratulations on being chosen to published in the 2017 IWSG anthology, Elizabeth! I can't wait to read your story! I'm sorry to hear that your mother has been ill. It is a difficult and stressful time for a family emotionally and physically. I hope that your mother is doing much better! I think that suffering makes you a more compassionate and understanding human being, not to mention writer. I've been keenly aware of this "rule" about writing from early on. My bane is depression, our family's curse. But as you say, all these suffering experiences are fodder for writing. Happy writing in 2017!

  27. I don't even know what a Facebook takeover is, so I'm REALLY missing out. I'm SO sorry your mom has been ill. I hope she's on the mend. Oh yeah, some of the harshest things I've been through have served to make me a stronger person and a better writer.

  28. Congrats on the anthology. That's a great way to start the year. And I like being crazy. Normal is overrated.

  29. I don't know what happened to my last comment. Totally disappeared. If it happens again I'll just have to email you and hope one more message doesn't push you over the edge.

    Personally, I think it's child #4 that can be blamed for claiming a woman's memory. ;) Here's to surviving the forgetfulness with notes, alarms, etc.

    Sending cheese to help keep you going (emotionally) with all the care taking stuff. Be sure to get adequate rest/breaks to keep yourself going, eh?

  30. Sorry to hear about your mum, Elizabeth. Hope she gets better soon.

    Talk about crazy and overwhelmed? The new router that I’d purchased refused to give me connectivity. My internet service provider ruled out the problem from their side. The company who sold me the new router insisted that it was in working order and they blamed the ISP for the lack of connectivity. So I was stuck in the middle. It was really frustrating! And this all happened over the last 10 days...Bottom line is, I was given a refund and I purchased another router from a different company...so I'm back on track. Phew! But it was hectic.

    Congrats on the anthology placement! Awesome!
    Happy New Year!

  31. Hi Elizabeth. Congratulations on your story in the Anthology. When our parents need us, some things get forgotten as they're not the priority. I don't even know what a facebook takeover is, thank God. But I wish your mum good health and you a productive 2017 where you're easier on yourself!

  32. Sorry to hear about your mother. I hope she's doing better and that you have people looking after you as well. LOVE and HUGS.

  33. So sorry about your mother and all of the stress, but she's lucky to have you (as if saying that helps ;) ). I've never heard of a FB takeover...it sounds criminal...but whatever it is, things often aren't really as a high of a priority as we think they are. I'm sure you'll be back on top of things when the time comes again.
    As to the writer list. Ugh. But then, after sitting on this ridiculous roller coaster for awhile and usually going more backwards than forwards, I can't say it's surprising. Hang in there!


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