Is it Writer’s Block— or Performance Anxiety
What do you do when you feel stymied and just can’t write? You sit at your computer and stare off into space. You go into the kitchen and pour out another cup of coffee. You open up your ideas notebook, but nothing appeals. Do you just walk away, go outdoors, turn on TV–or strain your brain to force an idea? What techniques work for you?
As a child I wrote poetry, stories, and plays. As a young adult I sent out my first novel to one prospective publisher and had it rejected. I went into a downward spiral of self doubt and anxiety and didn’t write again for a long time.
Anxiety can cripple your writing process. For years I “prepared” to write, jotting down ideas, organizing my desk, reading articles about developing story ideas and getting published–anything except actually writing. How did I break through my years (actual years) of doubt and procrastination?
I was assigned to teach a class in Creative Writing and found that I needed to put myself in the same position as my students. I undertook the same writing assignments I gave them. I encouraged them to share their work and I began sending my own stories to journals and online magazines. I sent my plays to theaters and –surprise! had them produced.
Still, after twelve published short stories, (four first prize winners in contests) one mystery, and various plays produced, I still have these moments of anxiety and self doubt. Meditation helps. Self hypnosis helps.