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.


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:


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


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:


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.

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