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Fuel your writing with creative anxiety, part 2

The fear at the root of creative anxiety can be powerful writing fuel if you manage it. In part one of Five fixes for creative anxiety, I revealed reasons writers experience anxiety.

Here are five more:

  1. You’re writing about something very personal. Much of writing, whether it’s a memoir, essay or even a novel, contains autobiographical elements. It can be wrenching to write about personal events. But write you must, because that’s where the emotional truth lies, and that is what makes your story connect with readers.
  2. Your writing feels muddled. Ask yourself out loud this very important question: “What am I trying to say? Distill what you want to say in one focused sentence. Now write that. You should be able to move forward with more energy and direction.
  3. You’re struggling with one element of writing craft. Pinpoint where you’re stuck. It may be dialogue, description, or character development. Now, find a jolt of inspiration from reading about that element of writing craft.
  4.  You aren’t sure where your story is going next. Read excellent literature. Sometimes, taking a break from what you’re working on to read gives your brain a rest and time for your ideas to percolate below the surface of your subconscious. You also might be inspired by another author’s writing. Read closely to analyze the writer’s techniques. I find ideas for my own work spring into my brain when I’m reading something completely different.
  5. You don’t have enough direction. You may be working with someone to write a nonfiction article. Ask the person who assigned the article for more information. Maybe you don’t have enough direction. Or if you’re trying to build out a plot, ask your characters more questions. If it’s a plot question, ask, “What if?” Collaborate with a person you trust creatively to talk out your story and brainstorm ideas. Dig deeper.

If you’re feeling anxious about your writing, see if you can figure out what’s causing it. Then you can manage it, instead of it managing you. With creative anxiety firmly under control, anxiety then becomes an inspiring force and the fear fades away.

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