The Anxiety of Not Writing

TG Christmas has passed. 

I appreciate that so many enjoy and celebrate Christmas. I do, too, in my way. It’s not actually Christmas that dismays me, but those places closed for the holiday. I don’t begrudge people that, but with the closed coffee shops, I miss my writing. More critically, I get anxious about it.

My anxiety when I don’t write is that what I’ve written is crap. Panic rises like Yule log smoke. It reminds me of a friend.

He’d been a football player, a wide receiver in high school and college who tried out for the pros and didn’t cut it. As a wide receiver, he was expected to be fast and to be able to run and run and run. So that’s what he did. Every day, he ran five miles.

He continued his habit after he didn’t make it as a player. He’d become a high school assistant coach by then. He moved on from football when he was thirty, going into serious business to make serious money.

Still, he ran five miles every day. He told me that he runs every day because he’s afraid that if he stops running, he’ll lose the ability.

Yeah, that’s not me with my writing, but I understand his thinking.

I thought about writing at home on Christmas day. Alone in the office in front of my laptop, I thought, I can write now. I’ve tried it before.

Picture this.

The cats troop in to see what I’m doing because I’m typing. Typing attracts the cats. Click click, click, they hear. What’s that, a mouse? Curious to see, they crowd around me.

These cats, all male rescues, don’t get along. Within seconds, they begin complaining about the others’ presence, locations, or existence. “What’s he doing here? want that space.”

“I was here first. You better leave while you can, hairball.”

“Who are you calling hairball, hairball?”

“You both would be well-advised to get the hell out of here before I turn you into a fur coat.”

“Oh, you think you can?”

My wife will typically come in then, jumping onto her laptop to surf the net and play games, and read the news.

The news must be shared. “Did you read what happened?” “Did you read what so and so said?” “Did you see this video? I think you’ll like it.”

I can tell her that I’m writing, and she tries to respect that, but as writers know, writing often involves sitting silently, staring at nothing or studying your fingernails or looking at something else on the net while the muses get their sierra together. So she’ll then say, “Are you writing? Or can I ask you something?”

Of course, nothing can be done about the cats. I can send them outside, yes, but I’d pay for that later.

So, no, I decided not to write.

This left a void. Into that void crept my imposter fears, my insecurities, doubts, uncertainties, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how fast, persistent, and subtle they are, how they move in with little noise. Then, suddenly, my head is filled with their sound. They’re like a destructive, pessimistic flash mob.

All this isn’t why I began the practice of daily writing. I started writing every day to finish stories and novels. I write everyday to learn and improve my writing skills. I write everyday because the muses deliver scenes, dialogue, and concepts. Their deliveries excite me, and I want to pursue them. I want to write to understand what I think, and I enjoy writing, conceiving and imagining, story-telling and resolving, visiting these places and events that mushroom in my thoughts.

It’s all complicated, isn’t it? Better to just write than to consider it all. Hold your breath and jump in, and see how far it goes.

The coffee shop is open. I have my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Merry Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho.

 

 

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