I do believe I’m a writer. There’s no mistake about this in my soul. Whether I have any skill in the craft still remains to be discovered. How can I be one without the proficiency? For me, and maybe for others, writing is a passion deep within the core of me. It has nothing to do with the ability to pen a sentence, paragraph, or more. I see, hear, feel, taste the world from the perception of one who communicates much more in written form than in spoken words. There’s literally scores of scribblers like me penning away, hoping their words make a difference to someone, anyone. Unlike other entrepreneurs though, the writer has more than his or her share of self-doubt and inner anxiety — in other words, mistrust.
I know that my doubts about my ability to write anything decent are powerful and oppressive. I guess some writers get this even before a word is written. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to have the unquenchable desire to write and yet nothing that seems worthwhile comes to mind. To those who have this problem, my heart goes out to you. The unworthiness doesn’t hit me until the first paragraph is written. It’s then that I wonder what in the hell I’m doing trying to write anything at all.
Once the doubt is there playing havoc with whatever skill I have, all emotions but one vanish. The one that stays, pestering me and swirling uncontrollably in my mind is anxiety. The words no longer will tumble out onto the screen. I must drag each one out kicking and screaming “I don’t want to!”
I subscribe to a newsletter written by Jill Jepson at Writing a Sacred Path. Not long back she wrote about this self-doubt and inner anxiety that plagues her writing as well. Like me, it doesn’t usually begin until the writing has already started for a session. Subconsciously, she get the urge to visit Twitter, her email inbox, or some other activity taking her away from the task she wants so desperately to complete. Her self-doubt has taken the form of distraction. She has found ways to alleviate this, although perfecting it will take time.
I don’t know if I’m addressing this obstacle any more efficiently but I am handling it. I must, just must have something to drink at my computer desk. No, I don’t have Diabetes, but nevertheless my mouth gets dry. I’m told it’s from the medications I take. This is a definite possibility but not an absolute. When I feel myself foundering, I reach for the glass, mug, or plastic bottle sitting just to my left. It gives me a moment to collect my inner strength to battle the doubt goblin who dwells within me. This doesn’t work all the time, however. When the ugly little monster persists, I walk away from my desk, go out to the kitchen, and watch the outside kitties through the deck door. Sometimes I’ll open that door and either Clarice or Jake, or both want to be petted. By the time I get back to my PC, the goblin has found something else to entertain herself with for a while.
The anxiety is still lurking just below the surface even though the doubt has subsided sufficiently. Yes, that’s still there too but is being held by ropes of hope and desire. The anxiety is stubborn. It prowls within me, popping out in all sorts of unexpected ways. All of a sudden, for the life of me, I can’t spell the simplest of words. The phone ringing will get me cussing up a storm. I have prolonged periods of being too hot or too cold.
I’ve heard it said that if you name your psychological vixen, it might be easier to deal with. I’m calling my anxiety Wilhelmina.
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” —George Orwell