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!

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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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