Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writer's Anxiety

I suffer from it.  A lot.

Take for instance this week.  I'm dealing with weaning a teething child who is enduring the worse case of diaper rash she's ever had while my mom (who babysits Ava while I write) is out of town.  And I have an incredible wealth of ideas swimming through my head like clumsy, wayward fish. 


Needless to say, my minutes are precious and are often occupied by feeding my orangutan, er, daughter a countless number of bananas and cleaning up "accidents" while my baby and her diaper-rashed derriere go diaper free.  In the mean time my mind is feeding my fish, concocting bits and snippets of story line to add to my poor, neglected manuscript.

And the anxiety is building.

Not being able to write is, for a writer, a lot like not being able to pee for the average human being.  Okay, I admit writing takes a tad more skill (although I'm sure we've all read our fair share of piss poor writing.  Ba-dum-dum), but the insatiable craving to relieve one's self on paper burns much the same.  I am incredibly sorry for the analogy.

Fortunately, there are ways to cure our anxiety short of grabbing the nearest bottle of Vicodin:

  1. Jot down notes.  Construct a necklace of post-its, scribble on your arms until they turn black, smash an unused tube of lipstick against your bathroom sink.  Whatever it takes make sure your ideas aren't just bouncing of the walls of your head.  If you can't take a break to write, you can at least take a moment to permanently archive your thoughts.
  2. Read.  "If I don't have time to write, how do I have time to read?", you ask.  Well, if there's a will there's a way, and I for one have a very big will.  For example, it's hard to read with a little one so whenever I take Ava to play dates or when my mom babysits and I have somewhere to be, I arrive ten to fifteen minutes in advance and read in my car.  Ava loves the car seat and is usually napping in it so I get a few minutes of peace and quiet that I put to use.  And of course, there's always the crapper (you know you were thinking it).
  3. Keep the TV on in the background.  I like to keep mornings to mid-afternoons TV free, but early evenings I put on the TV while I cook and take note of characters - their mannerisms, names, dress, etc. - and situations.  It opens my mind to new possibilities in my own manuscript.  
It's not a long list but it helps a little and will hopefully keep you occupied until your next writing jaunt.  And if nothing else you've witnessed the various ways I can bring defecation into any sort of topic.

How do you cure writer's anxiety?



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