Writing Tip: Obsessions Have Power

Photo 6She was a writer who had an intense love for birds, peacocks in particular. As a child, she taught a chicken to walk backwards and became a media sensation. She had pheasants, quail, turkeys, geese and ducks. Some of them she weaved into her writing and her obsession would leave an odd legacy among many other writers with strange habits. Flannery O’Connor was an American writer who wrote in a Southern Gothic style, combining the grotesque with Christian Realism.

I intend to stand firm and let the peacocks multiply, for I am sure that, in the end, the last word will be theirs.

–Flannery O’Connor

In today’s society, we have become obsessed with trends whether it is the most popular TV show or the latest diet craze. Some obsessions can be collecting trinkets, helping animals in need or shopping for clothes. As writers, we can channel those obsessions and use them in our writing as O’Connor did.

An obsession of a theme can be our muse for writing poetry, short stories or novels. William Wordsworth often wrote about nature; Philip K. Dick delved into Science Fiction for his many short stories; and Stephen King sticks to the macabre for most of his novels. Whatever genre you write in, integrate your obsessions into your work.

Natalie Goldberg suggests making a list of our obsessions and put them to good use. When you are inspired, go back to the list and harness the power of each one to write:

And your main obsessions have power; they are what will come back to in your writing over and over again. And you’ll create new stories around them. So you might as well give in to them. They probably take over your life whether you want them to or not, so you ought to get them to work for you.

-Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

If you love sports, use it as a metaphor for a trial you have faced or a struggle you are dealing with today. If you are obsessed with the beach, inhale the atmosphere and write a descriptive poem. From that collection of rare books, you can pluck elements of their worth into a fictional story. Let those obsessions seep into your soul and violate your veins until the energy inside needs to be released. Obsessions have power, so don’t let them go to waste.



Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones. Boston: Shambhala, 2005. Print (42)

Popova, Maria. “The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers.” brainpickings. Web, 2 November 2015. https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/09/23/odd-type-writers/

Schiffer, Kathy. “Flannery’s Peacocks: “King of the Birds” Run Amok.” patheos. 5 June 2015. Web, 2 November 2015.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2015/06/flannerys-peacocks-king-of-the-birds-run-amok/


Written by: Donna J. Sanders

Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia – a poetry collection about the struggles we face, the state of the world and how to see beauty in the simplest things.

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Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders

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  1. Writing Tip: Obsessions Have Power | TheRaven6825

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