They're watching, waiting
from the back of your own mind
By Annathesa Nikola Darksbane
So anxiety in writing is a thing.
It’s not hard to find the accounts of George RR Martin commenting that sometimes he wishes he’d just been a plumber, or any number of other famous authors talking about their fear of the blank page and how best to conquer it. And last night I caught myself writing this in my “from the author” for Dreadful Ashes:
“It may be obvious, but I had a blast writing this book. When I started it, I had a lot of fears that it wouldn’t be long enough; my outline showed less chapters than normal, and I fretted endlessly. Fast forward to the end, and to my surprise, it’s easily the longest Ashes book to date, if not my longest novel. And while they probably won’t be that long going forward, I do hope you enjoyed the meaty release. That bit of history is kind of representative of my writing process, to be honest: full of fear and doubt that burns away as the novel comes together, as I write my fears into submission and the story takes on a life of its own. I hope in time to master those fears and doubts, but sometimes I think I have a long way to go. But it’s okay, though; if that anxiety is the price for my work, I’ll gladly pay it.”
Aside from being completely true, the realization wasn’t really anything new to me, either. I was diagnosed with severe, chronic anxiety (along with other cool stuff like paranoia and depression) years ago. Every time I take more than two or so days off from writing (bad me!) I feel it crawl up my spine again, like whispers.
“You can’t do this.”
“The people that like your books are a fluke.”
“No one likes what you like. No one wants to read what you want to write.”
“You don’t really know what you’re doing. You can’t possibly keep this up.”
And much, much more. The only way I’ve personally found to stave it off is to write, a lot, day after day. It keeps me riding one high of accomplishment after another, and keeps me too busy to doubt. But it’s not sustainable, not yet, not long term; sometimes things come up, like too many appointments or an emergency. Or even just an unbeatable bout of depression, which is the worst.
I apologize if you read this far expecting some sort of realization, or worse, some sort of solution. This post was more a statement of feelings, a statement of solidarity with others that suffer similarly. (Fellow writers, unite!)
And also for awareness: if you have a favorite writer, or a friend that writes seriously, they probably suffer from this. Show them some love.