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”