We all suffer from a little OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). My personal demon is pegs. I have come a long way from my original affliction, where I had to match peg colours to the colour of the clothes that they were holding up. Now I just need to match pegs to the colour of their mate on the one piece of clothing. I love socks; only one peg. Sometimes I manage to use different colours, but I’m yet to be able to put a plastic peg with a wooden one. One step at a time!
Now while you might be scratching your head thinking perhaps I did all that psych training to cure myself (and I have come a long way) the truth is we **all** have our little OCDs or superstitions. I lump them together because often the OCD reveals itself as a superstition. The journey of an OCD starts as something logical; if the peg colour stains, it is best to have it the same colour as the clothing it is holding onto. It then grows into something almost pathological (see paragraph 1) and the final step is to go into the realm of lore or superstition.
For me this hasn’t happened yet with pegs, but in just three months it has happened with koalas. We have 2-7 koalas on our street at any one time (well, not on the street, usually in the trees that line it, but sometimes you do see them strolling along). My OCD started as just looking out for them as I went on my daily walk. Now it is a full blown superstition, where I’m convinced it will be an unlucky day if I do not see a koala.
Why am I confessing this? Well, besides the fact that I think that if you are going to have a mental problem, this is probably a cute one to have, the truth is it is these nuances that make us the 3-dimensional characters that we are. So if you are writing perfect characters with no faults and no quirks, then you are writing a fairytale.
So don’t necessarily make your character obsessed with koalas or pegs, but do make them irrationally scared of chickens, or when they go over a bridge they lift their legs, or when they pass a cemetery they have to block their nose!
I won’t tell you which of those I used to suffer from…
PS Share my koala affliction, can you see the koalas in this photo?