Be Brave Friday About Why I Throw Up Every Single Night

So, usually on Be Brave Friday, I share art that I’m working on because I am catastrophically shy about sharing art due to…um…family issues and negative scripts in my head that tell me I couldn’t ever possibly be (gasp) artistic.

But this Be Brave Friday isn’t about that actually.

What’s It About, Carrie?

This Be Brave Friday is about me and balance. Not the physical balance that keeps you from falling off a bicycle, but emotional balance that keeps you from stressing out every night.

As you may know if you know me at all, I grew up pretty poor even in comparison to my older siblings. My mom got me a credit card so she could use it and then not pay it was our kind of poor. My nana would stand in line and get us big blocks of government cheese kind of poor. Don’t answer the phone kind of poor. But we had a house and a car so we were super lucky that way. There was just a lot of stress.

And I went to college (thanks to financial aid and scholarships) and even graduate school, and I have my own house and no creditors calling and I can buy fancy cheese.

But I’m Still A Mess

Still, I freak out sometimes about making money because writers don’t get paid on a regular basis. And traditionally published writers get money once or twice a year if their advances sell out.

And that? That’s not so good for my psyche.

Be Brave Friday About Why I Throw Up Every Single Night
Be Brave Friday About Why I Throw Up Every Single Night – This is me, the mess. 🙂

Things Get Worse

Then Covid came and one of my family’s main sources of income is renting our two houses. The house we live in and the house we used to live in.

We couldn’t do that much this summer because of Covid. And I went into disaster panic mode, trying desperately to think of ways to use my skills and add income streams.

And I’ve done that.

But what’s happened is that I get sick every night. Physically sick. I vomit. And vomiting is pretty gross and no fun. I tried to fix it and figured it might be some sort of food I’m ingesting.

Red meat? I want to be a vegan anyways. It’s gone. Pickles? I have a weird intolerance according to my DNA. Gone. Fatty foods? Gone. Wine? Gone. Soda? Gone. Tomatoes? Those are acidic. Maybe that’s it? Gone.

Nothing helped.

And then my daughter Em came home for a month and I only worked in the mornings, cutting back, hyper focusing so that I could spend time with her. I started biking again, running a tiny bit, getting outside.

I didn’t vomit for a month, which is fantastic because Em is a bit vomit-phobic since an incident at Friendly’s in fourth grade.

And then she left for school and I started getting sick again. Every night. I became afraid to have dinner and believe me, I love dinner. Maybe I have an ulcer, I thought.

I took medicine for that.

It helped for two days.

Epiphany Happened

And then I had the epiphany that I didn’t get sick when Em was here, but it wasn’t because Em was here. It was because I wasn’t working from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with only a break for dinner and fifteen minutes for lunch.

I was doing the method where you work 25 minutes and take 5 minutes off. I was doing it all day long until I made dinner.

I know! I know! I’m American. I am supposed to be all about being too busy and work ethic and blah, blah, blah. I’m also from poor and I’m terrified that I’ll be poor again so there’s that?

“Could this be actually making me sick?” I thought.

And I did what everyone too cheap to go to the actual doctor does. I googled it.

What I Learned

It turns out that for some of us humans, if we work all day and never take a break, our stress levels rise and rise and rise. And at night when we finally stop working, that stress can manifest as muscle pain, vertigo, headaches and… vomiting.

Gross! Gross! I know.

So there you go, my Be Brave Friday admission is that I’m so stressed out about making money that I get sick every single night. I’m so stressed out that I get anxious about taking more than a five-minute break.

So What To Do?

But people need money, right? Which is why I’m trying to start a class on Teachable where it’s not quite so much one-on-one couching. And I’m going to try to take bigger breaks in the afternoon.

I talk about balance to other writers all the time and it’s about time that I get back to it myself. To stop living in fear of losing everything. To start remembering what it is to breathe and step outside and feel actual wind.

Last week, someone told me that I produced more content than anyone else they knew. I don’t make money at most of that content, not really, and that content they were talking about doesn’t even include editorial and coaching letters. And I have to find a way to find that balance and this step? The admitting-I’m-so-not-perfect-that-I-actually-throw-up-daily step? I hope it sets me in the right direction.

Advice

Please feel free to tell me how you handle money stress, balance, and whatever you feel like asking about.

Continue reading “Be Brave Friday About Why I Throw Up Every Single Night”

Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three

It’s the last of the anxiety posts and … um… I might be feeling anxious about that.

Last Monday, I posted part one of this two-part (now three-part) post which is all because one of my writing students asked: 

“Seems like a lot of us writers struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. All I can do, apparently, is grind out a page here and there during my more lucid moments. I don’t suppose you’ve got the magic key to overcoming emotional struggles so that the writing gets done?”

Writer who I’m not going to out here because that would be horrible

I have my own way of dealing with this, but my way? It’s not everyone’s way and it’s not that writer’s way so I looked to my Facebook friends for help. 

A lot of people were super kind and gave recommendations. I’m going to share some of more of them.


Start With A Word

What I do is I take a single word, whether it’s an emotion, a description, or anything else, just the first word that comes to mind. Then I build on it. I describe the word. Find synonyms, antonyms, I write what I think that word looks like as an image. Sometimes, I might even attempt to draw it (but I don’t draw well so I usually just laugh at myself for that one). Then I’ll write associations to that word. What does it remind me of? Who does it make me think of? When did I experience it last? 

Then, if I’m still feeling blocked or stuck after this, I’ll do it with another word. And another word. There have been days where I literally only write about words like this.

Allyna Rae Storms

Make It Work for you

I put my anxiety into my work. Writing or creating (painting or making jewelry) I use my extra emotions in my work. I write my fears into my characters, or I let it out into my art work. Some of my best pieces have been created when I have been frustrated, angry, or upset. Music also helps some times. 

Jenn Duffield

Look Beyond

It’s not about you, the writer. Look beyond yourself and just tell the story.

John Scherber

The Five Minute Rule

 I give my students and myself smaller assignments. Write for Five minutes. Revise one page. Then we celebrate these small accomplishments.

Ann Angel

Don’t Let Your Head Kick Your Ass

 I got this way a few times when I wrote the first draft of a short novel not too long ago. When the head kicked my ass a bit too much and my focus went to zero, that’s when I did an outline and wrote up a big picture idea of what would be happening next in my story. Then when I felt more focused, I was able to see the trees in the forest and was able to go back and flesh out my outline. This took all the pressure off me of having to think of the details and just have fun with the overall story ideas. I’m pretty certain that without this approach, that novel would never have gotten finished and I’d still be staring at blank pages.

Rick Hipson

Acceptance

I think acceptance helps a lot with all of this. “I’m feeling anxious today. I’m going to try to write for half an hour anyway.” “I think everything I write is crap. It probably is, but I’m going to keep working on this chapter anyway.” Half an hour here, half an hour there, they add up. I use my timer a lot. “I just have to do this for half an hour and then I can be done.” Whether it’s paying bills, sweeping floors, sorting through old clothes–that method helps me get stuff done. It’s a simple method but it does the trick.

Cathy Carr

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is the answer for me. Helps with the anxiety and to fall asleep at night.

Stacey O’Neale
Continue reading “Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three”

Writers And Anxiety And Self-Esteem

One of my writing students asked this last week and over on my Facebook page, I asked people if they any ideas for them.

“Seems like a lot of us writers struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. All I can do, apparently, is grind out a page here and there during my more lucid moments. I don’t suppose you’ve got the magic key to overcoming emotional struggles so that the writing gets done?”

Writer who I’m not going to out here because that would be horrible

A lot of people were super kind and gave recommendations. I’m going to share some of them here.

I have my own way of working through things (which is by working actually, just forcing myself to stare at the word on the page). Writing through my anxiety helps me eliminate my anxiety. By doing the work and being persistent, I usually pretty quickly remember the joy of the process and worry less about the outcome or other people’s approval or even my own self-recrimination or criticism.

But…

That doesn’t work for everyone and I’m not quite self-centered enough to think my way is the only way. I know! I know! Shocker. 🙂

Here’s what some other people said:

Venting

Low self-esteem isn’t something I’ve struggled with since I started writing, but anxiety? Yeah, I’ve got it in spades.

For me, when my anxiety and what I call “stress brain” try to get in my way, I open a new or previous project (just something different) and throw myself into a scene that is very personal to me. It has to be something that I can completely immerse myself in, even if it means tears don’t stop flowing.

Actually? Especially then.

It clears my mind to vent off some of my personal frustrations and tell the world what I’m going through in a fictional way. It’s sort of soothing.

I’m sure some psych professionals would have a lot to say about my approach, but it works and that’s what counts, right? 😅

Jenica Saren

Completionist

I’m a completionist. I get satisfaction from crossing things off my to-do list. So I started adding self care/ image tasks to it. Sometimes it will be “take half an hour and paint your nails really nicely” and sometimes it will be “smile awkwardly at yourself in a mirror for at least five minutes.” Either way, it forces me to really start to rewire my brain, and I get to cross something off my list so it’s an added bonus that creates some endorphins lol. I try to put those tasks towards to top of the list so I can’t just say “oh I’ll do that tomorrow” until I put it off forever

Autumn Gin

Top Down Development

Thoughts from a retired engineer: what the heck would I know, right? I wonder if my approach is applicable across domains. We apply “Top Down Development” to our projects. We start with a summary, expand that to steps which can be thought of as an outline, and then expand each step of the outline as we have done already. Eventually we are at a level where we are writing code, but it is going into a fully developed framework.

Does this apply to creative or non-fiction writing? Does it support or detract from the creative process?

Brett Binns

The Artist’s Way

When I sit down at the easel I will often time stare at the always scary white canvas/panel. I have found that pushing all fine drawing implements aside (pencils, pens, etc) and picking up a bold brush and start making marks does the trick. I “dabble” in writing and when that blank page is in front of me I resort to what Julia Cameron in her book “The Artists Way” suggests, grabbing a notebook and filling a couple pages with mindless streams of words that automatically come to mind which for me helps.

Richard Small

Celebrate What You’ve Done and More

What I do at the worst moments (so not general day to day but what i call ‘crashes’)

1. I write down all the things I’ve done over a period of time. No negative words on the page, only what I’ve done. This isn’t just writing or art but ALL the things because we are all many things.

2. Sometimes I will literally write a page or two of positive things about me over and over. ‘I am working hard enough’ or ‘My writing has value’. whatever it is that works for you. This helps alleviate the pressure gauge in my head.

3. I grab a friend to help recalibrate me–just to check my brain space. ‘Is this valid or is it just brain weavels?’

4. I let myself have a break–or try to

Sara Fox

The Five W’s and H

Find an interesting photo or art and write about that. Do the 5 Ws and H. Just do a quick write. Set a timer for 30 seconds and look at the picture. Study it. Form a plan. Then write 3 minutes nonstop. Write as many words as you can. It’s about word count. It doesn’t matter what you say. Just write like you’re in a race. Count the words. Do this 3 times. I find I write more each time. It gets you warmed up. You might even like I and can use it somewhere. I’ve found stories by doing this. 🤩

Here’s a link to millions of photos:

https://www.gettyimages.com

Angel Morgan

My Facebook friends are pretty amazing, right? It’s why I still have Facebook. I’ll be posting part two about this on Wednesday, but feel free to share you ideas and thoughts, too! We all should help each other when we can.

Continue reading “Writers And Anxiety And Self-Esteem”

Lick the Kitten, Embrace Your Vulnerability

Lick the Kitten, Embrace Your Vulnerability

 
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Shaun: A week or so ago, someone told Carrie that she’d be better served if she didn’t present as insecure on her social media. 

Carrie: For the record, I am just open about when I’m scared about things. I’m not sure insecurity is the same as fear. I mean, I guess it is to a certain extent. But I’m not insecure about who I am. I like who I am, an occasionally anxious, goofy, smart, creative, quirky, open-book kind of  person. Does that sound like who I am? 

Shaun: Pretty much.

Carrie: Anyways, here’s the thing. You can pretend to be someone you aren’t. You can present any damn way you choose. But that’s it – it’s your choice. Nobody else’s. 

Shaun: And Carrie? She has no problem being vulnerable. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes that the biggest myth about vulnerability is that it is weakness. And that’s possibly what happened with that person’s comment to Carrie last week.

Carrie: To be fair, about once a year a woman writer, usually older than I am, will tell me to present as more confident because I am strong and talented. They are trying to help me, personally, and the cause of all women, too. I think? But I don’t see the dichotomy between strength and vulnerability. They shouldn’t be on opposite ends of a line. 

Shaun: Brene Brown writes, “We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgement and criticism.” 

Carrie: And she also says this, which I think is how it pertains to writers and artists and this podcast, “Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness.” 

Shaun: So vulnerability is writing. Because vulnerability is risk and emotional exposure. And even the act of writing is vulnerable because almost the first thing someone asks you is, “Oh? Have I read you?” It’s like they determine your worth just by whether or not you’ve been on a bestseller list or not.

Carrie: Exactly, but just writing and deciding to create is a risk because it’s not the most financially secure thing in the world, but it also is because once you put your creation out there – unlike the accountant – you are vulnerable via ratings and bad reviews and internet trolls, which is massive emotional exposure. But it’s more than that. Writers have to incorporate emotion and vulnerability on the page. They create characters who are meant to tweak the readers’ emotions. Writers are like the tsars of vulnerability. 

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

You are a writer. You are a human. Embrace your ability to take risks, to be vulnerable. Emotions are not weakness. 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Allow yourself to lick the kitten in public, adopt those who you love. Be open. Be vulnerable. Love.  

Random Thoughts Included:

  • Carrie’s anxiety about dental surgery
  • Bangor (Maine) City Council Signs
  • Carrie not being dead. We think.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

Cool Contest of Spooky Awesomeness!

Um. MacMillan is having a super cool sweepstakes where you can win the book I wrote with Steve (IN THE WOODS) and four other scary books.
Go enter! Go win! I’m rooting for you!

In the Paper, Baby

I was just in the newspaper and I think the photo of my head is actually larger than my real-life head. Go figure. It was super kind of them to notice me and to write about me. Here is the link.

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN! 

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Last WEEK’S PODCAST

Today’s Podcast Link if you can’t see it below or at the top of this post.