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Are All Writers Crazy?

Updated on November 24, 2011


So, you're wondering, aren't you? You, who clicked on this article. I caught you. Yeah, it's all fine and good when I pick on the uber-smart in Are All Geniuses Crazy, because those smarty-pants technogeeks need to be explained away so we regular people can feel okay with our not so spectacular selves. But now, some joker is holding up a mirror and you don't like it, do you?

You do realize that historically, writers don't have the best track record. Ernest Hemingway: fabulous writer. Drank excessively and ultimately shot himself after failed electroshock therapy. Franz Kafka: described as having schizoid personality disorder (that's what you get for writing about waking up as a bug!) J.D. Salinger: recluse. Mark Twain: get a comb! Edgar Allan Poe: following a career writing of the macabre and studying cryptology, he died at the age of 40 wandering the streets of Baltimore in a daze. J.K. Rowling: Got her idea of the soul-sucking Dementors from her own battles with clinical depression.

Silly question, really. Of course we are. We're flippen whacked. That's what makes writers interesting, that little off-kilter, left of center, WTF's-happening-next quality that makes us want to tune in. Perfection is only interesting when its mocked, like in The Stepford Wives!


"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Crazy is as crazy does

Of course, in many aspects crazy is rather definitional. Here's a simple analogy: In the 3rd century BC (pre-Copernicus and Galileo), the common understanding of the universe was that it was geocentric (earth-centered), which basically means the Earth is at the center of the universe, and everything rotates around it. So in a completely egocentric model, whatever isn't self (the center of the universe) is, by definition, crazy. Naturally, that means the further from the center, the crazier, right?

And if we all commit to a dull hum of similarity, we validate how alike (i.e. non-crazy) those closest to us are, and how whacked those on the outer edges appear to be. Which is all fine and good ... until we write. Suddenly, our unfiltered expansive brilliant mind allows in whatever universal seedling plants itself into our psyche, and spills out through our fingers into magnificently insane prose.

And crazy genius is thus borne.


"My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too." ~ Rodney Dangerfield

“But I'm Crazy. I swear to God I am.” ~ J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
“But I'm Crazy. I swear to God I am.” ~ J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Top ten reasons you might be nuts

Supposing that readers are writers and writers are readers, if you're reading this here on hubpages, you're probably a writer. That said, here are some reasons you might be a few french fries short of a Happy Meal...

  1. You feel compelled to write personal notes to an invisible audience of strangers you'll likely never meet, but you continue communicating with them, despite knowing you're really just typing words for no truly apparent reason.
  2. In your spare time, when you could be meeting with friends, hiking the nearest mountain, or spending quality time with your kids or partner, you instead compel yourself to sit down and journal your thoughts.
  3. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about Voldemort.
  4. You can write an 80,000 word novel that takes thousands of hours, but when someone asks you what your book is about, you stammer, struggle for words, and then spill out some incomprehensible garble that makes the other person raise their eyebrows, back away and then suddenly remember they have a pot roast in the oven.
  5. You get into heated arguments over books vs. the Kindle.
  6. You get a fervish delight from penning out stories of the macabre, zombies, possessed cars, whacked out fans, post-apocalyptic wastelands and rejected teens who kill their classmates, and get a peevish smile from others when you delve into gruesome detail at holiday events and class reunions.
  7. You consistently stop active conversations with people in front of you with, "Hold on, I have to write something down," as you pull out your portable pocket journal.
  8. You are intimate with hundreds of alcoholic concoctions, and you're not a bartender.
  9. You remember what a typewriter is, and still have an IBM Selectric tucked in your attic rafters.
  10. You're really wanting to sign up for Hubpages, right now, and convey to the world what brilliantly prolific contrivances you can conjure for the indulgence of a you-thirsty world...


“I would imagine that if you could understand Morse code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.” ~ Mitch Hedberg


Seriously, we're a world with a bit of an addiction to cries of crazy. What's one of the most common one-liners a person says about an ex?: "She was crazy!" And the other person nods, as if we all understand this verbal shorthand.

The 2012 edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5, assembled by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will list approximately 400 new ways of being crazy (up from about 60 in the 1950s). Logically, we can't be 667% crazier than we were sixty years ago. The APA has just added distinctions based on new social constructs. And those are constructed just to provide guidance to psychiatrists on what to do with the varied patients they encounter.

The truth is, most of us are a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, so it's silly to spend time on the yes or no question, and instead focus on an understanding and acceptance of the truth, which requires some ego-surrender and vulnerability. And if for no other reason than the fact that a writer is more frequently having to access and translate the intrinsically brilliant threads of inspiration and knowledge from God and the universe, its more likely the writer who is the most sane, and the rest of the world that is truly crazy.


"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?" ~ Albert Einstein


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    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Well aren't you special? ;-) Actually, that's a great word. Means so many things, like "interesting...!"

      Thanks for checking in, LMY!


    • love my yorkies profile image

      love my yorkies 5 years ago from way out west

      I've been telling my husband for years that I'm "special"!!! Well, yeah, of course I am, but YOU KNOW the kind of "special" I'm talking about, don't ya! When I look at some of the things I've written, if crazy doesn't cover it, then I don't know what would! LOL But I do so enjoy being me, cause I wouldn't be so "special" if I was anyone else!!

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      .Musicians are crazy by nature. I'd read it. Late?! I never thought I heard you say that. :)

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Actually, I thought you lived between Baker Street and Penny Lane! Bad music pun. I guess I'll have embark on "Are All Musician's Crazy?", but then I'd have to have a soundtrack...

      This actually stemmed from the "Are All Geniuses Crazy?" hub that has closing in on 10,000 hits now (weird, huh?) Perhaps I should instead write one called, "Are All Crazies Normal?"

      It must be getting late...

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      I blame my madness on the fact that I live between Hawthorne Ave and Dickens Ave. I've thought about moving elsewhere, but then I wouldn't be able to have such engaging conversations with these writers. :D

      It's fun to make fun of writers and artists, isn't it?

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Isn't that the truth? I actually love the word "crazy", and from the amount of traffic I have to this new hub and my older "Are all geniuses crazy?", I think there's an odd curiosity to the concept. In some ways, I think it's often just shorthand for "I don't get it." Whatever "it" is. Thanks for your supportive and encouraging words, JamaGenee.

      Caveat to anyone reading this hub: Obviously, there are some pretty horrific psychiatric disorders that render many people completely unable to participate in society or suffer beyond what most of us could handle or comprehend. I don't intend to minimize those at all - I apologize to anyone if it comes across that way - though I hope we no longer refer to people with paranoid schizophrenia or similar serious mental illness with the term "crazy" any longer. In modern context, the connotative meaning of "crazy" is really more of a deviation from relative normalcy or a comical lack of understanding, which is how I'm using it in this article.

      To anyone who may accidentally came across this hub looking for answers, I suggest instead you seek a qualified therapist - to do so is a sign of emotional intelligence, not weakness. I wish you well.



    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      To butcher a much-used axiom: "Not all writers are crazy, but it helps".

      That said, I think anyone who spends his/her days (or nights) filling pages with words with no expectation - other than wishful thinking - of another living soul ever reading them has to be at least a bubble or two off center. Not necessarily "crazy", but most definitely NOT plumb. (My dad's dad and grandpa were carpenters...)

      But what a boring world this would be if everybody were sane or normal! What IS "sane" or "normal" anyway? I hang out in cemeteries and write about the people buried in them, which some consider the behavior of a "crazy" person...

      So I have to disagree with the august body that compiled and revises the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It's not really a catalog of mental "disorders", but a catalog of personality traits specific to certain groups of people. Say you're in prison for mass murder and all your cell block mates are mass murderers, then who's "normal", the inmates or the guards? ("One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" is a perfect example of "normal" vs "crazy".)

      If I hang around with mostly people who write (which mostly I do), we *know* we're not like everybody else - thank heavens! - but consider ourselves the "sane" ones. As an ex-boss liked to say "Perception is everything".

      As for the "greats" like Hemingway and Salinger, the latter is the only one I'd label certifiably nuts. His bubble wasn't even in the window.

      Voted up, funny and awesome. ;D

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Thanks phdast7. Yeah, I'd hate to think I was alone in my hubinsanity ... ;-)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub. Enjoyed it immensely. Thought I recognized quite a few friends and family members in your descriptions...and maybe myself as well. :)

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Weirdos unite! Thanks jimagain - always good to hear from a sympathetic soul ....

    • jimagain profile image

      jimagain 6 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      I knew it! I knew I was a weirdo, now I have a consensus; me, myself, too! but Hey, I love abnormal 's like a reflection of myself! I suppose therapy would be pointelss at this stage? Never mind, I think I'm just going to go back to my desk and write on my imaginary typeriter.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Write on! Thanks Dad...

    • Jackwms profile image

      Jackwms 6 years ago

      These are all good. They work for me

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Spot on, tamara - writing is also my therapy! ( Thank you for your thoughts - obviously, I agree...

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I'm driven to create, and writing is my outlet. Unlike art, I can consistently make money writing.

      Creativity can be defined as crazy, but how it is used constructively is the definition of sanity.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Yup. Debated getting a psych degree for that reason, among others....

    • thegamer1 profile image

      thegamer1 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Everybody is crazy these days - writers, politicians, musicians. It's popular to be crazy! This is crazy...

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 6 years ago from California

      Agreed, Vrajavala. ;-)

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 6 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      I'n this age of psychiatry, I'n analyzing others and ourselves, it is important for all if us, especially those living on the "edge" to define better this crazy world we live I'n.