Shit Writing Syndrome – and How to Cure It

Well, first you need to get a gig. A really good one. Like this writer did:

writersroomby Andy Bobrow

This is something I have never talked about publicly. Five years ago, shortly after my beautiful daughter’s third birthday, I was diagnosed with advanced SWS?—?Shit Writing Syndrome.

I’ll assume you’ve never heard of it. I hadn’t. Webster’s Dictionary defines Shit Writing Syndrome as “a disorder that turns one’s writing to shit, for example, by causing one to quote this dictionary when describing the disorder.”

The mechanics of the disease are still not well understood. Some experts believe that fecal matter leaks out of your colon and travels through your lymphatic system into your writing. Others think it’s figurative. But those distinctions matter little when you are looking at a page of your own writing and seeing shit.

They found it by accident. I had gone to the doctor for a routine penile enlargement procedure. I had filled out the standard Writers Guild insurance forms, and that’s where it turned up. When my doctor walked into the room, she had a hard time making eye contact.

“We won’t be enlarging your penis today,” she started, haltingly.

Ordinarily, she spoke with such clinical reserve. But this was different, personal. “When we looked at your paperwork, something seemed off. I took the liberty of sending it to a lab,” she continued. “Andy… your writing… it’s almost a hundred percent shit.”

“That can’t be,” I said. “I was writing just yesterday and it was fine.”

She asked me to write a simple sentence. I did. We both looked at it. I laughed nervously.

“L-let me try again.”

“Try some dialogue,” she encouraged.

I wrote a few lines of dialogue. I can’t remember them exactly, but I remember one of the characters said something kind of lame and then the other character said, “Really?” and repeated the lame thing that the first character had said.

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