Anxiety and Fear

Private Or Public Directions On A Signpost
As many of you know, I took a rare mini vacation from my blog last week. I was overwhelmed. I’ve posted several times recently about the difficulty I’ve had lately trying to maintain balance in my life. I’m still struggling.

At both my therapist and my pdoc suggested, I eliminated most of the obligations in my life so I could dedicate myself to writing. I made the decision to make it my full time vocation. Unfortunately, it seems to have created more anxiety rather than reduce it. At this point I have two short stories, a novel, and my blog posts all swirling around in my brain. I’ve tried to stay focused on the short stories for several reasons. First, they would help to build my resume. Second, while they do not bring much money, they are the quickest source of revenue at this time. Third, they would help me perfect my craft. However, the deadlines for the short story submission aren’t until the early part of next year, yet, the pressure of having a deadline at all is beating down on me.

Regarding the novel, I determined it is not time to push forward on such a long-shot. Wait until my writing improves. Work on it now and again as time permits. However, the ideas for the novel keep flooding out of my head. I have a Word file labeled “Ideas” which seems to double in size each week. In addition, the recorder on my phone is chock full of ideas that hit me while I’ve been out shopping, getting coffee, and so on. No matter how much I try to plug the holes in the dike, the ideas keep coming, making it difficult to focus on the other projects.

A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with some members of a Los Angeles writers group. Their unanimous suggestion was to allow the novel ideas to come out and do it. If that’s where my brain wants to focus, then that’s where I should focus. Since that meeting, that is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been researching, logging ideas and generally stayed focused on the novel. I feel somewhat foolish to put so much effort into such a long shot. Then there’s a part of me that says to go for it. Who cares if it sells or not? Consider it training for writing projects in the future. And, hell, maybe it actually will sell. Stranger things have happened.

Amongst all this mess swirling in my brain, I am crystal clear on why I become more stressed when I think about writing short stories – deadlines. Deadlines easily cause panic attacks.

I must say that last week I seriously considered shutting down this blog. As much as I love to blog, I’ve also become overwhelmed by it. It’s another obligation that is causing much anxiety in my life. In addition to trying to post several posts each week, many of my articles require a substantial amount of research. In fact, I have a long expose coming up that I have spent months researching. After a discussion with my husband, Maurice, I have decided I’m not going anywhere. As he pointed out, this blog is what made me discover my love for writing, it doesn’t make sense to abandon it now. So, I’m here to stay, though I may not be posting as often.

So, that’s where I stand. I will continue to work on the novel, I will continue to write short stories, I will continue to write for my blog. I just may have to switch the priorities around when necessary.

26 comments on Anxiety and Fear

  1. I’m definitely pro getting novels out of head — I’ve done and won NaNoWriMo twice, and it’s a good way to dump a story out raw. There are two Camp sessions (April and July) in addition to the main event in November, and the focus of all the events are more quantity over quality. I don’t know whether that would be useful for breaking the brain seal or not, but anyways. Good luck with your efforts, and yeah — better to go with the flow, I reckon. 🙂

    I used to try to maintain my bipolar blog daily, but realised that yeah… it works better as once or twice a week. Mind, mine isn’t research-heavy, but that’s not the kind of blog I want to write either!

    1. I currently try to post 3 times a week. I’ve been thinking of cutting it back to 1 or 2 times a week. I’ve pretty much decided to just play it by ear and post when I can regardless how often a week that may be.

  2. Bradley, so glad you have decided to keep the blog. I know you really like doing the research based posts, but maybe a few subjective posts thrown in for good measure would be easier to write every now and then. I really hope you can come up with a solution for finding balance in your writing life. And your “long shot” of a novel…. whew, if I could only count on my fingers and toes the many redeeming qualities of every “1st” novel out there that I have read (and there have been many). I would be happy to read and give feedback or proofread, if that is something you want help with. ((hugs))

  3. I’m glad you’re not going anywhere! You’re one of my favs and I would miss you.

    Are you going through some hypomania? Maybe these floods of ideas and the subsequent anxieties will soon pass. I’m glad you aren’t making any rash decisions. Take care.

  4. I’m so glad you’ve decided to not abandon the blog. I look forward to reading every post you write. Maybe posting monthly would be easier? I wish you much success with your novel and short stories. I agree with the others, go with the novel first. That’s where your inspiration is aimed. You can do short stories later, but that’s not where your inspiration lies now. I know you will eventually find balance because you don’t give up and you take the advice of your Pdoc and therapist. Peace, calm and a joy for living and what you are doing are what I desire for you. All the best to you and Maurice for the holiday season.

  5. Test anxiety. Deadlines. Age-old causes of anxiety, Bradley. Understandable, for sure! We put so much pressure on ourselves to perform. I say, follow your heart and what is meant to follow will. When I read about the “how to’s” of blogging, there were all these rules on being successful. I’ve thrown out all the good advice. If you don’t do what comes naturally it won’t ring true with readers. So if you feel like posting once or three times–do that. If you feel like working on your novel–do NOT let those ideas get away from you! Write them down, and it they make you keep writing–do that. And if you want to take a break and lay on a beach-do that. Don’t I make it all sound simple, Lol! Whatever you do, don’t give up your blog. Listen to Maurice! 🙂

  6. You may want to pace yourself based on inspiration. I had a chance to see the well known Australian author Tim Winton at our writer’s festival this fall. He started writing at 17, a stay at home dad before it was fashionable, with a baby that slept for no more than hour or two at any time. He had three desks set up with three projects and in the precious time he had to write if he became stuck on one project he would simply moved on to the next. It took a while but his persistence paid off.

    Good luck!

  7. Hi Bradley
    (note I don’t have a gravatar anymore)
    I understand the stress of having a writing deadline. I’m sure you will find your process to get your formula for writing in balance.

    I know for me when I feel that stress it blocks my process. I found that beginning a post without a plan of when I’d post it was helpful. I usually needed to get back to it within a day or so or else it became a draft that stayed a draft.

    But when I found that nice balance of starting the post and then setting it aside for just a few hours or a day, then going back to it,….that was a magic rhythm for me. It took the pressure off and then when I went back to the draft I often easily see how to finish it.

    Blessings on your way

    1. Thank you, Gel. I may have to adjust how often I post this week, but I believe I’ll adapt to a new schedule. It’s just going to take some time.

  8. Hi Bradley… it’s good to see you back. What struck me when reading about all your projects, is if you were able to concentrate all that focus on the one novel, I think you would do exceptionally well. If the ultimate outcome is a success, then brilliant, but there’s a whole heap of other stuff you could take away from that process.
    Maurice is right, this blog is the root to your writing, it would be a shame to close it down. But, feeling under so much pressure to post 3 times per week will only have a knock on effect on the rest of your writing. Writing one or two p.wk might be the best way forward for the time being

    1. I agree Cat. I’m going to still make 3 times a week my goal for posting, but I’ve convinced myself not to be beat myself up if I can only post once or twice

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