Overcoming the “A” Word

Every writer, I’m sure, has their ups and downs when it comes to the writing process. What parts of it do you enjoy? What makes you excited to sit at the keyboard and type up a story – and what parts make you want to chuck your laptop as far as you can throw it, preferably into heavy traffic?

For me, writing is a very emotional experience. I grow extremely attached to my characters – sometimes unhealthily so. I remember writing the end of my NaNo novel back in 2009 and bawling as I wrote the last words – I felt too sad for the characters’ relationship to end the way it did! What a terrible ending! What a way to torture two people I’d grown to love! Yet for me, that’s what I look forward to the most when it comes to writing.

Building characters and worlds is a dream come true for me. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a child – making elaborate worlds and equally elaborate characters. The current world I write for, a country called Pridd that has a good mix of Steampunk and magic, has become unbelievably real to me. The country has a map, a government, a religion. The rivers all have names. I have this gigantic timeline pointing out all major events so I can make sure I’m always consistent.  I’m sure if I wrote in some natural disaster – an earthquake, perhaps, that swallows part of a city whole – I would cry over ruining this amazing world I’ve created – and have an absolute blast writing about it. Writing creates a reality for me that I feel like I can visit whenever I’d like, free of charge – what a way to spend a vacation!

Being an emotional writer, however, also has a negative side – one that I have struggled with for years with my writing, and am struggling with even now as I write this blog post. See, I – like 18% of adults in the US – suffer from anxiety. Anxiety is very real, and oftentimes very crippling. Going to a new restaurant I’ve never been to without knowing how to order beforehand? Forget it. Getting lost in the city? Queue nervous breakdown. Calling the dentist, doctor, or hair salon to make an appointment? Never. Luckily I have an amazing wife who can make these calls for me – and a fancy phone with GPS so I don’t have to worry about getting lost anymore!

Phones, the internet, and Lindsey can’t cure one thing however: writing anxiety. How does one become a published writer when they are terrified of showing off their work? Even doing things like posting an excerpt of my story on the NaNo website induces a bout of nausea and shaking. Writing this blog post? Well. Let’s just say I have a very supportive friend at the Café who convinced me to do it – otherwise I’d probably be curled up in a corner somewhere shouting obscenities at my screen.

Overcoming anxiety has been, without a doubt, the hardest part about being a writer. It’s not something that has an instant cure. It’s a struggle day after day. Do I post this? Do I write that? Do I show this story off? I’m proud of it, after all. Do I hide this story away? Even if people will like it, they’ll be reading it! How do I handle that?!

The truth is, you take it day by day, story by story.   Some days I wake up feeling like the bravest person in the world – and that’s a day I might post a new short story on Subeta or share my feelings on Tumblr or sit down with a latte and write a new blog post. Some days, my laptop is an evil, terrible creature, one that just exists to make my life miserable.

Some days, I get brave enough to conquer my anxiety, stand up and shout, “I’m not going to let you tell me I can’t share this!” – and I do so. Today is one of those days. Anxiety may be crippling sometimes, but I cherish the days when I can fight it – the days I feel like some day, I will be a writer, the days where I feel like the bravest person in the world. Who would have guessed the worst part about writing can occasionally be the best as well?

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