Writing While Anxious

I’ve reached a point in my anxiety where I’m afraid of my art and my writing and I talk myself out of it. I don’t want to write because I’m afraid, not just of how other people will receive my writing, but how I’ll receive it myself. I’m afraid that what I create will be ugly, that it will be the same regurgitated crap I see all around me, that I won’t be able to adequately put down on paper (or on screen) what’s in my head.

I was in the habit for a while of writing every morning, essentially using the Morning Pages method of writing at least three pages every morning. It was an easy habit to make, and an easy habit to break when I was tired, or achy, or running late, or busy. Three pages of anything, every morning. I’ve managed to claim some lines of poetry from them, even some full poems, and a few lists of solid short-story ideas. But I’ve also dragged out memories and feelings from the darkest parts of my mind, and made myself uncomfortable, more anxious, less secure.

As a result, writing has started bringing me more anxiety, which causes writer’s block as soon as I set pen to paper, or sit in front of a blank screen. I can have words and ideas swirling in my mind all day and determine that I want to write them all down. And as soon as I sit in front of a screen with a blinking cursor and type a few words, I feel a familiar tingle across my face signaling the beginnings of an anxiety attack. A blank page will send me staring into the distance, my mind racing.

I want to sit down and set intentions, to let my mind wander in words, to put my ideas down on paper. I still get a feeling of excitement when I think about the idea of writing, when I imagine what writing was like when I was an undergrad and a grad student. But actually writing makes me feel like I shouldn’t – not just that I’m an impostor, that I gave up my creative side when I sold my soul to become a CPA, but that I’m stealing creativity from people who are legitimate writers. That I’m tapping into something that’s no longer mine.

Before you tell me that’s ridiculous and no one thinks that, I’m going to tell you that I’ve had people tell me to my face that I turned my back on creativity, on art and literature, the second I signed up for my first courses in my MSA program. That I had sold my soul, I was joining the legion of faceless, soulless office drones, and I would never be the same afterwards (also that I should be ashamed of myself, because. Further, that I had no business thereafter calling myself a writer, much less actually writing. I think about those conversations often, every time I think I want to write something. And I think that maybe I was an impostor all along and perhaps I was just really, really good at mimicking what “real” writers do. Or maybe the people who told me those things were insecure bastards who had no business policing the arts for people they felt were inferior.

Regardless, my writing is suffering, and I suppose a part of me is suffering as well (a different part of me, that is, other than the parts that are already suffering from chronic illness, anxiety, depression, and other various malaise). The pen is fire, and as badly as I want to be burned, I can’t even enjoy its warmth.

3 thoughts on “Writing While Anxious

  1. I love that you wrote THIS….and will remind you that THIS is writing…raw…real….the experience of your life, the realizations of who you are. And it’s good. Damn good. And we have all sold our souls to some degree. Doesn’t mean you can’t buy it back. It’s in you, and it’s gotta come out.

  2. I think what you wrote is perfect. All of us suffer from something and sometimes putting down on paper or screen whether you think so or not helps someone else. Knowing you are going through what I’ve been suffering for years makes me feel not alone anymore. I hope you can get back to three pages every morning no matter what comes of it.

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