Writer’s Schizophrenia

For those who haven’t experienced this phenomena, let me explain. Writer’s schizophrenia is a lighthearted term used to describe the way that writers experience and interact with their characters. For many of us, they become real in a sort of waking dream state that we go to when we write. Strong characters have a tendency to bleed over, popping into our minds and worlds in the most surprising times.

For me, the characters become more tangible in direct relation to their development. Some, such as minor characters, are almost like ghosts in my head. The more that I get to know them, the more solid they become. Main characters are, for that reason, as solid as people in my mind. Like those around me, they also tempt me into doing things that I wouldn’t normal dream of doing. And when I try to resist, they mock my efforts and refuse to do what I ask.

People tried to explain this to me before it started happening but I never fully grasped the idea. It actually took a bit of effort on my part to realize when it was happening because I’ve always had such a strong imagination. I never questioned whether others had the same experience.

My husband always seemed to brush aside my comments on the depth of my interaction with my characters. Then, when my family and I watched Nim’s Island, he got a glimpse of what I’d been talking about.  Gerard Butler’s portrayal of Jodi Foster’s character in their writer’s schizophrenic interactions is priceless.  When I saw it, I burst out laughing. No one seemed to notice until my husband turned to me, eyes wide, and said, “You don’t really have that happen, do you?”

I laughed again, harder this time. He knew it was true and didn’t ask again, though I think he was considering my commitment to an institution at that point. It’s still funny to me, even as I write this. It might be strange to anyone who isn’t so creative, but I love that my imagination is this strong. I can promise that I’m never bored or lonely.

Or maybe that’s a bad thing. Drop a note and let me know what you think. I’m curious to see who has similar experiences with their writing or even with the writing and characters of others.



6 thoughts on “Writer’s Schizophrenia

  1. I found your blog accidentally and could not be more delighted!

    I have been writing all my life and I have also experienced what you’re speaking many times – in fact I consider it a goal.

    I thought my experience was unique (or more simply put that I was “just weird”) until one rainy afternoon when I was reading John Fowles “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” Fowles suddenly stepped back and took a chapter out to describe how his characters had begun taking over and behaving in a very unruly fashion, keeping secrets, refusing to do as he wanted, etc. At that point I realized that I was not alone!

    Part of what I love most about writing is also what I love about reading. It’s that point I call “falling through the page” when you cease being consciously aware of words on a page and instead you’re seeing the “movie” in your head and the entire experience becomes quite organic. From that point it is all too easy for my characters to take me for a ride, often leaving me clinging to a virtual pommel while my legs flap wildly as we gallop to the next chapter. But what an exhilirating ride it can be!

  2. Yeah, it happens. What’s really freaky is when you actually fall in love with a character. I’m wild about the guy in my current work in progress. If he were real, my heroine would have to settle for the other guy in the story. LOL.

  3. Ohhh, yeah. I’ve argued with characters, gotten hugs from them, felt sorry for them and gave them stuff, and so on and so forth. I didn’t realize THAT was what Nim’s Island is about! I totally have to see that now…

  4. Well, the movie is more of a romance, but the girl is a writer and her character is very prominent in the story.

  5. Your hubby’s reaction is priceless!

    Not being a writer I can’t understand it either but I do believe it happens to most writers.

    Sandie * an addicted reader *

  6. I’m so happy to see that we’re all crazy together. *laughing* My husband is worrying less lately, especially after I’ve told him about the comments on this blog. My daughter, however, is getting a real kick out of watching me talk to my characters when I work. I didn’t even realize that I did that. I guess we’ll worry if I start answering myself.

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