Anxiety Before Writing
There was a feeling that I always assumed was a natural part of writing.
It’s a feeling that I get before I sit down at my computer.
There is a nervousness, a self-doubt, a feeling that makes me wonder if I’m capable of accomplishing my writing goals for that day.
I thought this feeling was a natural part of the writing process.
Everyone talked about it as if it was… ‘I’ve got writer’s block.’ ‘Creating was really hard today.’ or ‘I just didn’t feel inspired.’
I heard people discussing the negative side effects of writing so often that I didn’t even question whether or not it had to be a part of my schedule.
I welcomed in the negative thoughts like they were a part of the career that I wanted. No one had ever told me that it doesn’t have to feel this way.
I was wrong.
Before I go any further with this piece, I would like to clarify that I do believe that feeling negative emotions towards writing is a natural thing. It happens sometimes, and that’s okay.
There is nothing wrong or unusual about feeling apprehensive about writing. What’s not usual is when you feel nervous before writing most days.
I feel anxious about writing almost every day, and it wasn’t until I had a conversation with Gabriela Blandy that I realised that the anxious feeling isn’t natural, normal or necessary.
We writers trick ourselves into thinking that pain is part of the craft. Sometimes it is, but many writers feel intimidated or uncomfortable with the process of writing. Writing can bring up a lot of negative and confusing emotions that come hand in hand with working in a creative field.
Gabriela taught me that instead of pushing past my anxieties with writing, I was reinforcing them.
Changing my mindset.
I was challenged to adjust my mindset every time I felt negative feelings rising to the surface.
When I feel negative feelings I normally push through them. I continue to write despite how I feel about the process.
By doing that I ended up reinforcing that those negative feelings are a part of the process. I normalised the part of my writing that felt uncomfortable, so much so, that I didn’t realise that I could write without feeling the negativity that I was so used to working with.
By pushing through my negative thoughts, instead of stopping and addressing the reasons I felt negative, I began to cement an unhealthy writing habit into my life.
Gabriela challenged me to take a step back and process why I’m feeling the way that I’m feeling. By trying to understand my concerns and worries and by addressing them as problems, I am beginning to train my brain to process and release the unhealthy parts of my writing routine.
By stopping and readjusting my mindset before writing, I can begin to feel positive about my work.
Where my fear came from.
One of the things that I struggle with when writing is my own skill level. I’m never sure if I’m going to have the right words for the concept I am trying to approach.
The anxiety here isn’t coming from my writing, but from my belief that I might not be good enough.
That’s a personal issue.
It’s nothing to do with my professional career. I’ve proved to myself time and time again that I do have the words and the capabilities to publish articles on almost any topic, but this niggling thought still pops up.
I still think this way because I have made self-doubt a part of my writing routine.
I’ve normalised negativity under the disguise of ‘This is how every writer feels.’ ‘It’s just imposter syndrome again.’ ‘There is nothing I can do, I just have to start writing, and it will go away!’
Mindsets can change. Thank goodness! I’ve now started a journey on adjusting mine and I would love to encourage you to examine your own writing process, and what you could do in a better or healthier way.
How is your mindset?
Have you taken a step back and thought about where you are with your writing?
How do you feel about the progress that you are making?
I want to encourage you to take a bit of time to get in touch with yourself before writing.
It’s always helpful to talk if you feel like you’re going through a particularly rough patch with your creative process. I would encourage you to find someone that you trust and who can offer you great advice.
I found it helpful to talk to Gabriela. She called me out on attitudes that I had assumed were normal. She’s dedicated her life to helping writers develop good mental health habits and watching her YouTube videos and being a part of her facebook group has helped me tremendously.
So from one struggling writer to another, I hope this has helped you think about what you might need to adjust. Explore your emotions when it comes to writing.
The changes that you make now will impact the rest of your writing career, so why not have an honest look at what is going on and see where you could improve? As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!