Anxiety and Writing

Last week, I started talking about my anxiety.

This week, I want to share how having anxiety can really affect my ability to write.

Since the beginning of April, I’ve been dealing with an inordinate amount of anxiety. Part of it is due to a faith crisis/season of doubt I’ve been going through (another story for another time), part of it was due to a scary potential diagnosis for our dog (maybe a brain tumor, might kill her, we don’t know), and a few other things happening all at once.

In that time, I knew that I needed to write. I even tried to sit down and write. But I couldn’t.

Everything overwhelmed me.

If you don’t know me in real life, which is probably a decent chance you don’t (super exciting that my traffic is growing to a point where I can assume total strangers are reading this! YAY!), I have a pretty high base energy level. What that means is that on a regular basis when all is well, I can easily juggle writing, staying home with my kids, working a part time job, doing the daycare thing, exercise, housework, train for various running races, etc.

However, over the past few weeks, even going into my email and seeing 13 unread emails overwhelmed me. I’d just switch out of that tab. Even as I write this, all those email are STILL unopened. It’s good stuff, newsletters I subscribe to and information I want, but I see THIRTEEN and just can’t even.

Hello, anxiety.

I’m also working on editing my fantasy novel. I have 50 pages left. FIFTY. Of a nearly 300 page book. I mean, in editing terms, I am ALMOST THERE. Yet, since the beginning of the month, I haven’t been able to touch it. Again, I’ve just been overwhelmed by the volume of work, the complexity of the story, the amount of material I’ve been needing to add. It’s as though my brain doesn’t even know what to do with the book. I sit down and my mind goes completely blank. I can’t think or reason or even comprehend what I’m reading.

Hello, anxiety.

In my writing group, we’ve had some AMAZING prompts lately and I’ve participated in one. Because again, I sit down to write and my mind goes completely blank.

It is so frustrating and I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. The kids would be sleeping and yet I couldn’t eke out a single word.

Then I listened to an episode of Hidden Brain while at work. It was about scarcity and how our brains react to scarcity – whether it’s food or money or whatever. It turns out that when something is scarce, our brains focus solely on it.

My brain was overwhelmed with everything going on – so maybe I felt scarcity of peace or time or something. I’m not entirely sure, but what I do know is that pretty much the only thing I could think about was how anxious I felt. Everything else got pushed to the side.

In my head, it made a lot of sense. It wasn’t that I was turning into a lazy, forgetful person – it was that my brain was in survival mode instead of “normal” mode.

As the fog has slowly lifted, I’m finding it easier to move ahead, to get back to what I used to do, and yes, even to write.

Anxiety affects my writing by fogging up my brain so hard that I can’t focus and I can’t get anything on the page no matter how hard I try.

Have you ever experienced this? What are some strategies you’ve used to cope?



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