You’ve felt it before.
The hollow pit forming in your stomach. The hole in your brain that leaks a constant supply of negative thoughts into your bloodstream. The heaviness. The crushing weight of your own self doubt. The thousand and one irrelevant ‘what if’ questions that fly through your skull, clogging every path that any redeeming feelings might flow into, suffocating you, until you are a victim to the inner demons. Demons birthed from your own imagination. Demons who remain invisible to others, but to you, they are as tangible as any human being.
If any of that sounds familiar, then you have my sincerest pity. Functioning with anxiety is nearly a Herculean feat.
I’m here to share my experience. You know, when the call to write inevitably means your mental problems will weave through each word you type. When choosing to publish your work, to put it out there for everyone to silently (and sometimes, not-so-silently) judge, becomes a choice you have to make.When your anxiety amplifies the nervousness tenfold, crippling you some days, and still trying to destroy you, even on the days it fails to succeed.
Simply put, writing with anxiety sucks ass.
I’m embarrassed to admit how often I’ve hovered over reviews and shuddered at the idea that someone I’d never met disliked a character, or a scene, or spotted a grammatical error, or found any fault at all with the story at all. I don’t think there’s an answer for it. I don’t even think awareness of it will keep me from doing it again.
But if anybody is reading this, anyone at all, who has written a story and fears the repercussions of exposing yourself so much, that you have yet to pursue publishing… please, heed my advice: take the plunge.
I cannot promise you won’t have bad days.
I cannot promise you won’t constantly second-guess whether or not those who have read your book think any less of you, for whatever made up lie your anxiety tells you is true.
I cannot even promise that the book will sell well, or at all.
But I will say that your book is unequivocally, 100%, without a doubt, better than all the unwritten books hiding in the backs of peoples’ minds. You made something. You poured effort into it. You spent hours looming over a notebook, or a computer, churning words in your head and spilling them onto the pages. That, my friend, is more than most people can lay claim to.
You gave the world art.
While many years have since separated artists from public reverence, there was once a time when the creative people of Earth were venerated. Take a small slice of that past worship for yourself. Tuck it away, into a pocket or an easy-to-find corner in your brain. Keep it accessible, that you can reach for it on the bad days.
Take a cue from your characters. If you can write the bravery that gives them life, than it’s already inside of you. And even if, at the end of a long day, nobody else gives you a pat on the back for what you have achieved… please know, that somewhere in the world, I’m giving you the biggest feckin’ thumbs up I can muster.
You wrote something. You created. Share your work. Slay the beast that dares to shackle you. I know you can, because you’re a gods-damned hero.