One day we’re up, on top of the world. We hum under our breath while visualizing ourselves climbing the best seller list or dominating the next poetry anthology. We. Are. Writers.
The next day? Getting out of bed seems a chore, putting fingers to keyboard an insurmountable act. What does it matter what we write anyway we sigh, muttering under our breath. No one will ever see it. We. Are. NOT. Writers.
Are You An Anxious Writer?
The term “anxious writer” may bring up thoughts of scribes nervously nibbling on the end of pens or endlessly tugging locks of hair while trying to force the words to come.
Aren’t most of us anxious writers, though? I’ve yet to meet a writer who is so gob smacked by her own work that she never feels a moment of trepidation when it comes to showing it. Or an author who enjoys reading critical reviews of his work, gleefully re-reading the negative bits over and over. For fun.
Most writers feel anxious when they put their hand to the page. Why? Because writing is like peeling away the skin of your inner places, allowing the world to look inside.
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” ~Virginia Woolf
Turning Anxiety into Creativity
Dennis Palumbo has written an insightful article about turning anxiety into creativity. He states that the feelings, negative feelings that so many of us want to avoid are often the raw material of our craft. It's easy to avoid those feelings though, isn't it?
A third glass of wine? A little retail therapy? What’s one more episode on Netflix in the grand scheme of things?
“No matter how mundane, the small anxieties can swarm like bees, making work difficult; distractions, like an impending visit from the in-laws, money worries, or that funny noise the Honda's been making," Palumbo says.
The trick seems to be expecting these anxious thoughts, recognizing them and moving past them.
“… as I've said countless times to the writer clients in my practice, struggling with these doubts and fears doesn't say anything about you as a writer,” Palumbo states. “Other than that you ARE a writer.”
What do you think? Do writing and anxiety go hand-in-hand? Or is the association a tired, overplayed assumption?
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