Writing or Having Written?

There’s a famous Dorothy Parker quote: “I hate writing; I love having written.”

Someone recently reminded me of this quote, and I argued back immediately, “No, I love writing itself!”

Here is where I will now contradict myself:

I love writing.  What can be more enjoyable than experiencing magic while it is happening?  To let the keystrokes happen almost of their own accord.  To encounter storylines that I could have never dreamed of on my own.  Or to press hard into a challenge and discover a solution.  This is the brilliance of writing, of being in the minute, of loving each moment as the words fly from you.

I love having written.  Lately, writing has been producing so much anxiety in me.  It’s different than my OCD anxiety though.  It’s more of a fear of the future and a fear of failure.  Part of it is that I’m writing on a deadline again for the first time since college.  Part of it is working on a first draft of a character-driven novel where I’m not certain the characters are strong enough to drive it.  Part of it is that it’s simply what writing is like.

I do know that I need to get my anxiety under control again.  I have a couple ideas:

* Post my First Draft Manifesto in places where I will see it often.
* Start using Valor, a blend of essential oils that’s been called both “a chiropractor in a bottle” and “courage in a bottle”
* Meet with writing mentor for some valuable wisdom on the writing life and how to win the head game [edit: did this and will post about it tomorrow!]
* Give myself grace
* Chat with my psychiatrist about this recent flare of anxiety

Any other suggestions?  My writing life as of late has been like a roller coaster of self-doubt, and I need to get this under control.  In other words, I need to not only love having written … I need to love writing itself.

My friend Anna posted about this on her blog today as well!  Check it out here!


10 thoughts on “Writing or Having Written?

  1. This sounds so familiar! I notice I tend to go through bouts of anxiety while writing (and revising). Some days are good and anxiety free. Others, I’m sure I suck and everything seems impossible. I’ve found just walking away from the writing and doing something else entirely helps me. I can go back to my writing the next day or hours later with more perspective on what I’m doing. And as always, having a good support system and people that will tell me, “step away from the writing for a few hours or a day,” are invaluable.

  2. I think Melissa’s advice is pretty sound. If writing is causing you terrible, almost debilitating anxiety, then the right move might be to step away from it for a little while. I’ve had to do this a few times, not just to give myself a mental break but to allow me to come to a place where I actually MISSED writing again. The cliche “absence makes the heart grow fonder” really is true and maybe a little bit of distance is all you need.

    • That comes with its own anxiety, unfortunately– feeling like I’m wasting time when I’m under a deadline. BUT, that said, I *am* trying to do that more. (Details on the blog tomorrow.) To take a step back or let it sit for a day and to NOT freak out about it. It’s felt good actually!

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