The ideas swirl in my brain, desperate to be recorded on my computer. I work out the details in my head, playing out the scene I envision, all the while thinking how great it will turn out. Encouraged, I think about when I’ll be able to write again. Planning my writing sessions around family and work obligations can take some effort, but I am always able to squeeze them in somehow, even if they aren’t as often as I’d like. As the planned writing session approaches, something odd happens. I get nervous, anxious, and my confidence plunges.
What is that about?!?!
I’ve never been the most confident person in the world, and I think writers in general can relate to that. My self-esteem, although much improved since the horrid high school days, can still be damaged, sometimes cycling in wild swings like the stock market. In the world of writing I am young, only recently having devoted myself to honing this beautiful craft. Because of that lack of experience it isn’t surprising that I feel nervous about my next writing session. The doubts creep in, the questions come in waves:
- Will it come out on the screen like I envisioned in my head?
- Do I have the talent to do this?
- What if nobody likes it?
- Heck, what if nobody reads it?
- Why do I put this pressure on myself? Why don’t I just go and watch television?
I understand why I feel the way I do before each session, and it is improving with time. But I recently learned via interaction with other indie authors that even experienced writers feel this way. The doubts continue to fester, even with multiple novels under their belts. On the one hand this surprised me, but on the other, it did not. We are all fallible human beings, and no matter how high our confidence, when we write we share a piece of ourselves. We rip out a small chunk of our souls and place it on paper or a screen. That is an intimate act, and even the most confident person may be afflicted with doubt when they choose to do it.
So how do we get around this? I don’t think we ever can, at least not entirely. But we can tell ourselves a few things to make the nervousness subside:
- Pressure is a good thing. It means that you care deeply about what it is you are doing. Make friends with it because it will never go away, be it in writing or in life. Let it spur you to excel.
- When I finally begin my writing session, the anxiety goes away after the first sentence or two, and the Muse takes hold and creates her magic. Other authors have related similar experiences. Once you start, the focus shifts to writing, and the nervousness and anxiety subside. Just sit down and start and see what happens.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this. If it is because you love it, and for most of us that is what drives us, then all the pressure in the world shouldn’t keep you from moving ahead with your dream.
I am making peace with my writing anxiety. He and I are becoming fast friends. It takes time, but it can happen if you don’t let it win by taking hold of you and letting it prevent you from writing. Don’t let that happen. You’ll never forgive yourself.