Obsession Cycles

I’ve rediscovered chess. Again.

Right now all I want to do is play chess, read about chess, do chess puzzles, study my old chess games (yes, I record them…), install chess software, etc. I’ve entered another USCF correspondence chess tournament. I’m searching for local chess clubs on the off chance I’ll get a free night to play over-the-board (I only play correspondence and/or internet chess, since having a first-year medical resident for a wife and a 6-year-old daughter don’t leave much time for over-the-board play).

But give it another few months, and I’ll burn the chess obsession right out of myself. Just like I’ve done the last 10-15 years.

Chess isn’t the only “obsession cycle” I go through. I have my Magic: The Gathering cycles, fantasy sports cycles (which I tend to burn through faster than other obsessions), and “I’m-gonna-freelance-in-my-spare-time” cycles. My reading tastes seem to burn just as brightly — I just came out of an epic fantasy cycle, and I’m now in a space opera cycle. In a few months, I’ll go into a mystery cycle and read any mystery that falls in my lap (or onto my Kindle).

Fortunately my fiction writing “obsession” is the only thing that’s stayed constant my whole life. I’m at least disciplined enough to finish my writing quota and then reward myself with my obsession-of-the-moment.

Do you have any “obsession cycles”? What are they and how long do they last? And please keep the comments clean… 😉


  1. Cycles in reading genre goes in a circle of Science fiction, fantasy/myth, Hammet/Chandler noir, and history. Last obsession was the entire Robert E Howard Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull, and Bran Mak Morn short stories, currently reading about North American trees.

    Cycles of obsession in the physical worldKillifish (just add water), Triops, – and critters found in vernal pools, keeping American aquarium fishes (currently keeping live-bearing Mosquito fish), photography, birding, and intaglio printmaking.

    Bucket list future obsession: egg tempera painting technique , pinhole photography, star trail photography, stop motion photography, and screen printing.

  2. I don’t go through obsessions with books but I do have others.

    For instance, right now I’m in full NHL playoffs obsession. I’ve been watching as many games as possible and I even run a pool (a bit like those NCAA basketball pools people do in March). This typically lasts as long as my team survives, but I’ve been known to continue long past that.

    I’ll pop in and out of video game obsessions. When I get stuck in a game, I’ll quit it for days or weeks before going back to it. But when I play, I try to keep my time to a minimum otherwise we’d never eat and the great laundry monster would destroy our house. But sometimes, when I have free reign, I don’t stop. I was up to 1 AM Saturday night trying to finish Portal 2. I was unsuccessful.

    I used to have guitar playing and backyard astronomy cycles. I wouldn’t mind getting back into those. Maybe once the NHL playoffs are done. Hmmmm, let’s see that would be the first week of June. Still got a month to go…

  3. TJ: Oh man, I never thought of creating a bucket list of future obsessions. That actually satisfies one of my long-running obsessions — creating to-do lists for everything.

    So an obsessive to-do lister making a list of future obsessions…

    Feedback looping…mind melting…

  4. Thank you for confirming my self-diagnosis, Rob. 🙂

    And I forgot to mention my Traveller (sci-fi RPG) obsession. I justify that one as a sandbox for my sci-fi writing. Anyone who’s stumbled across that portion of my website would agree.

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