What could a writer possibly be worried about, right?!
Most creatives have scads of concerns and insecurities to worry over. In fact, I think that’s a major reason I put off writing as long as I did.
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain
Here are some creative worries I’ve had recently:
- “Did I just spend half my day writing the weirdest scene ever penned in this galaxy?” As in, weird in a not cool way…
- “Am I publishing something I will regret for the duration of time because of the eternal nature of the interwebs?!”
- “Have I chosen a topic or plot line any rational person would see is a controversial minefield, a failure, or worst of all, doomed for milquetoast obscurity?
- And the ever-present: “I’ve bled, sweated, and cried over this story. But if I keep working could it be even better?” (While excellence matters, the answer to this question will always be yes, so there comes a point when you have to cut it off and it’s so hard to!)
Ways to Manage Creative Worry
Writers need some kind of strategy for not just tolerating creative worries but leveraging them for our gain. My thoughts lately have been that worry should be managed rather than eliminated. I recently wrote a post asking Can Worry Actually Be Productive?
I recently asked a few creative people I know how they fight worry. My friends are smart. Here’s what they came up with:
- “Working on more than one painting at a time helps me. they solve each others problems. Also loud music drowns out the voice of worry in my head.” – Jennifer Rasmusson, Figurative and Abstract Painter
- “Best thing I’ve found is to do more creative things. The more I fill my life with the light of creativity, the less worried I am about any one particular piece of art.” – Ben Hodson, Writer, Filmmaker, and Musician
- “Go for a run. It clears the mind.” – Deborah Gatrell, Teacher, Leader, and Pilot
Also, my friend Ramsey Dewey is an MMA fighter, performer, and writer. He went in-depth on the subject and I wanted to share the full expression in a separate post you will definitely want to check out.
An Example and Experiment: The Vent and Shred Method
I found myself dithering about how I’ve chosen to write about the vicissitudes of being a single person through the character in my upcoming novel. What if writing that honestly about it just comes across as lame and results in this, this, or even that terrible outcome?!
In this case I gave my worries a different kind of ‘timer’. I wrote down all the bad outcomes I was worried about. On the back, I wrote ways I could best avoid those outcomes by how I tell my story–without compromising what I ultimately want to say on the subject.
I went on a walk to let it marinate. When I got back to work, I made a few changes in my manuscript. Then I put the scratch paper in the shredder as if to signal to myself that worry had been leveraged for my gain as much as possible. Time’s up. Anything more, and worry would begin to have diminishing returns (sorry, I was an econ major!).
Maybe shredders are underused!