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Five fixes for creative anxiety

Do you ever feel creative anxiety? Your brain is buzzing, and you’re spinning your creative wheels faster than your feet can pedal. You’re just plain fried.

I’ve analyzed this malady to see what causes it, as well as what fixes it.

  1. You’re looking at the project as a whole instead of bite-sized pieces. Change how you think about your work. If you’re struggling with where to start or the enormity of what you’re doing, don’t try to attack it all at once. Focus on one piece, whether it’s writing one stellar sentence or one excellent chapter. As Anne Lamott said, “bird by bird.”
  2. You need to do more research. If you’ve hit a wall, you could be missing crucial information. Maybe you need to fill in historical details, learn more about your setting, or develop the world where your characters live.
  3. You’re not writing the story or article you should be writing NOW. Timing matters and sometimes we mere mortals can’t explain why doing something at one point in time is better than another. But it just may not be the right time to write what you’re writing. If that’s the case, move on to something else that flows better. Then come back to your other project when the time is right.
  4. You’re over thinking. Are you making it harder than it needs to be? For example, if you’re writing a blog post, are you trying to fit too many ideas into one post? Focus on one idea. Whatever the project may be, simplify. Scale back.
  5. You’re going where you’ve never gone before. It can be scary to go from writing one style or genre to another. If it isn’t working like you envision, you may be thinking, “I’m a failure. I can’t do this.” Relax. This is part of the process. Stop for a second, regroup, and remind yourself that you just have to put something down on paper, then you can revise.

By its nature, writing requires us to enter the realm of the unknown. But it also delivers the reward of an exhilarating adventure as the mystery reveals itself in the end.

Learn more ways to embrace creative anxiety in an upcoming post.

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