Inside My Neurotic Head

I recently borrowed a book from the library that focuses on the neurotic habits of writers.  It is interesting to see that some writers like to write in empty rooms and alone, while others do it on ships, coffee shops and middle of living rooms with kids around.  Then some people have quirks all the way down to writing a first draft in pen with a specific brand of pen and the colour of the paper (apparently yellow is often used for drafts).  Of course while reading this I started to realize some of my own neurotic habits around writing.  So in the interest of some entertainment of how things work to generate this blog I present: my neurotic head.

I keep a small black moleskin notebook with me most of the time to write down random ideas for blog posts. Everything from noting an interesting survey on TFSA’s where 92% of people didn’t get all five questions correct to wondering if the decay of the financial standing of the US will lead civilization’s downfall.  Perhaps at best half of the ideas get used.  The other half are often too short of a post or get lost in the idea bank.  I consider writing for the blog more habit than difficult and generating ideas take no effort at all. Yet I will go out of my way and invent things to do avoid writing other things, but I will always write for the blog (unless I’m sick).    Somehow I find the other writing more stressful than blog (even including the book based on the blog, ironic eh?).

To warm up some days for some writing I’ll open a file and just type what ever happens to come into my head for ten minutes.  I often have a candle lit near me because I find the smell and the motion of the flame soothing.  I prefer to write early in the morning because I enjoy the quiet of the house.  Yet I can also write with the kids less than 10 feet away and playing.

I’m terrified at times at having success with my writing, like some how having a huge blog or a decent selling book would create expectations that I couldn’t live up to.  I often wonder if I’m a fraud for having the readership I currently do on this blog.  It’s like the feeling that you, the readers, can’t possibly be interesting my opinion of personal finance.  I’m just some guy from the prairies with a wife, two kids and a crazy dream.  I have often doubted that anything I’ve ever written was even good, despite the assurances of many others that at least parts of it are good.

I get downright bitchy if I don’t have some time to myself each week and it will even show up in my writing if I fail to get away for an hour.  The post/page will lose a certain readability that occurs with my better writing.  Interestingly enough I can handle negative feedback fine at work on my writing, but are more sensitive about my other writing.

So that’s a snap shot of my neurotic head.  So if you have any doubts, yes all writers, including bloggers have their habits and odd beliefs around their work.  It just comes with the job.  So if you do any writing, what are your habits around it?  Do you have a chair you love or an item near by when it do it?  Or can you write on post it notes in the bathroom?

7 thoughts on “Inside My Neurotic Head”

  1. I used to be able to write University essays with music blasting in my headphones and do okay, but I find I write much more effeciently in a quiet room now.

    I keep a notebook close to me all the time, either for things I want to write about, or just things I’m thinking about and want to spend more time on it when I can focus on it.

    Like you, negative feedback from the blog doesn’t overly impact me negatively, but at work and school assignments, I seem to take it more to heart.

    I found an interesting journaling site a while ago – it’s kind of like an open-writing project for each day – and you get points for doing it! (

  2. I’ve nothing to offer on writing so will just say that I wouldn’t have guessed you were a moleskine guy 🙂 I had been turning my nose up at the cult … until they went and released the Toronto edition!

  3. I don’t need points for writing, but, like in university, I find that a deadline motivates, even if it’s self-imposed. I can’t write nearly as much as you, Tim, but committing to post once a week keeps me writing.

    At first, I intended my blog to be the rough draft of a book. But the structure seemed to stifle my output, so now I just have fun with it. Even if some of my posts are off-topic.

  4. I’ve often wondered about the habits of other writers. Thanks for sharing yours. What’s the name of the book you checked out from the library? Sounds interesting too.

    (I myself get much better writing done at the coffee shop than at home–too many ways to procrastinate at home!)

  5. For the most part, I normally have music on in the background while I’m writing but I have to be in a room or my own designated ‘space’ by myself when I’m in thought. Somehow I ‘tune out’ from the rest of the world.

    Nice thread.

  6. @Dave,

    Actually that sounds a lot like some advice I’ve hear in regards to writing three pages a day long hand to warm up.


    I didn’t think I would be a moleskin guy either until I got one and gave it a try. I love the fact it lays flat! I can cramp in so much more on a page with that.


    I’ve noticed blogs have a different format than books. You can’t get into the same level of detail. Can you imagine anyone reading for five days while you get to just a point and then doing that for weeks? So enjoy blogging. If nothing else it’s a good place to work on ideas.


    Book is “Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers” by Harry Bruce.

    @The Rat,

    I think that is a point of most rituals around writing. To zone out the rest of the word and only have the words.

    Thanks everyone,

  7. I used to write poetry which I could only do in the middle of the night and preferably sitting outside. Just for the atmosphere. I’m not sure if it was any good, but the rest of the time I’m just not interested in writing it.

    I can write for my blog anytime though. I keep my list of blog ideas in my blackberry. Most of which I come up with on the ride into work or on the way home. Don’t worry I don’t drive in 🙂

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