Dr. Jim

James E. Robinson is a professional songwriter, musician, author, counselor, and speaker. His songs have been recorded by major artists in country, Christian, and rock music and he has recorded three CD's of his own. He and his wife are co-founders of ProdigalSong Ministries [www.ProdigalSong.com], combining music, speaking, and education workshop presentations, they travel and perform in churches, treatment centers, schools, and correctional facilities throughout the country.


Greetings, dear readers.

Today we offer you a continuation in our six-part series called “The Six As of Addiction.” Today’s letter is from a reader who wonders if she might be suffering from AOCAD . . .

Dear Dr. Jim,

Breathlessly, I write. Writing is my life, but lately I’ve been honestly afraid my work has been awfully . . . well, kind of “purply.” Hopefully, you can help. I was wondering—although, honestly, suddenly I’m pessimistically shaking my head, wildly anticipating another cruelly delivered rebuke by yet another pathetically over-hyped “shrink”—if you had ever heard of AOCAD. I recently read a poorly written magazine article about this “suddenly, strangely common malady” that has rushed wildly through the ranks of writers. Seriously . . . do you know anything about it? I’m afraid I might have it and have sat around day in and day out, horrifically anticipating a ghastly future for my writing. Really . . . can you help?


Dear “LY,”

Oh, yes, LY, I know about AOCAD, most indubitably. The malady from which you are doubtlessly suffering is called Acute Obsessive Compulsive Adverb Disorder. But you shouldn’t necessarily feel hopelessly alone in this; many writers have certainly struggled with this disorder and have found help in support groups such as AAA (Adverb Addicts Anonymous) and TKWSLY (The Knights Who Say “LY”). Clearly, many writers attempting to write in any number of styles (tragically, comically, romantically) can easily fall prey to this malady . . . and frequently aren’t even aware of how cunningly it can happen.

Recovery is really (mostly, anyway) a matter of cognitive behavioral “rewiring” of the aberrant thinking, which involves repeatedly, redundantly reading aloud our writing in these safe group systems, listening closely and unashamedly to feedback from the group, then meticulously rewording our work, moving from ridiculously overwrought and overwritten sentences into more carefully and painstakingly crafted works, such as those of Hemingway, who truly knew the value of frequently using economy (i.e. restraint) in his daily work.

In the two examples below, you can easily see the improvement of one of my clients, who, though he at first warily entered therapy, after only a few weeks (and several thousand dollars) was able to move confidently from addiction to recovery:

“Stunningly, the sun shone down dazzlingly through the slowly shimmering leaves, throwing dappled light lazily upon the banks of the brilliantly silver-watered creek, brazenly bordered on both sides with thickly laid carpet of moss, until at last the softly echoing sound of John’s hastily shod feet rambled hopefully up and past his suddenly frost-covered ears.”

“John walked to the creek.”

Clearly, AOCAD can be cured . . . not easily, perhaps, nor quickly (or inexpensively), but certainly efficiently! So hang in there, “LY.”

I’m Dr. Jim . . . and I’m (attentively) listening . . .

When not writing this column, Jim can be found compulsively overworking at www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.

The Flower of Grass