Sunday, October 7, 2012

Writer Anxiety

As writers, I think we all share a tendency for anxiety. After all, if you want to be published, there's a lot of waiting you'll have to do. Waiting on beta readers, waiting on agents, waiting on editors, waiting, waiting, waiting. With waiting comes a lot of time to think, and that is where the anxiety comes in.

Anxiety can affect a person in many different ways. At my child services agency, I get a glimpse of how anxiety can play out. Sometimes it's with physical/verbal assault, withdrawing, screaming, pacing, destroying property, lashing out at people-- it's incredible how many reports I get about the kids doing INSANE things, and the only explanation the report offers is "This client suffers from anxiety issues."

Sure, we may not be jumping people in the street (and yet as I write this, I remember, a writer did this recently...) but anxiety does still affect us, and can cause us to act without thought.

For example, anxiety may cause us to:

--> Respond to an unsavory review (Always a bad idea, even if you're trying to be civil.)

--> Prod a agent/editor for a response (Not always a bad plan, but if you're nudging a week after they got your manuscript, they may think you're not as well-versed in the industry as you should be.)

--> Jump to conclusions. (This is a big one. Anxiety can eat away at your thoughts, until you think, "So-and-so MUST think this, because it's been so long/hasn't been long enough/ect" This can cause us to act impulsively, which may reflect badly on our professionalism.)

--> Vent. (Venting is a good thing, but there is a TIME and PLACE for everything. Venting to friends and family? Go for it. Venting about an agent on a public forum? NOT SMART.)

--> Lash out. (Sometimes we get it in our heads that these gatekeepers in our way just want to crush our dreams. NOT TRUE, but thoughts can worm their way in when we least want them to, and this may cause us to send a hurtful email. Also a major career killer. Industry professionals talk, remember that.)

Even good writers make mistakes, and it's never a bad thing to take care of your own well-being. There's no sense in being miserable, so here are some tips to combat those nasty voices in the back of your head:

--> Do something else. Distracting yourself is the best way to get your mind off publishing issues. Write something else, work on your next project, or spend some time away from the writing world. Go for a walk, build a birdhouse-- do something productive. You get nothing done by worrying.

--> Kill those thoughts. Anxious thoughts can leak in at any time. I've found the best way to handle them is to shut them down immediately. Whenever I start to think, "Why hasn't my agent responded yet?" or the like, I immediately sweep them from my mind and tell myself, "This is something I have no control over." And I change my train of thought. I can drive myself mad if I don't change my thought process.

--> Relaxation techniques. Sometimes that tension worms its way into your muscles. Take some time to de-stress. Enjoy a bath, write in your journal, do something you enjoy that will not add any stress or anxiety.  If you're kinder to your mental health, it's easier to get back into that writing flow later.

--> Process through your worries. If you have some fear you cannot shake, start at the beginning and work through logically. Don't try to catastrophize the worst situation. Work it through and reassure yourself that patience is the best option (or perhaps it is time for a nudge-- just make sure you never send an impulse email.)

--> Educate yourself. The more you know about the publishing process, the less stress you'll face. Learn about wait times, etiquette, and the things agents/editors expect from you. That way, when you face a tough situation, you know how to handle it and you'll deal with less stress and anxiety in the long run.

What are your ways of dealing with writer anxiety?

Happy writing!



Book Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare

Book Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Review by: Katie C 

Whitley is looking forward to spending the summer before college at her dad's condo-- drinking, barbecuing  and some quality time with the father she only sees once a year. But when Whitley arrives, she meets the new fiance and her two perfect children-- one of whom she slept with the night of their graduation party. When she doesn't fit in with her father's new family, Whitley parties, and hard. She escapes through alcohol, but there's only so long she can run before reality catches up with her.

So, as you've probably seen on this blog once or twice, I LOVE Kody Keplinger's books, and this one does not disappoint. As usual, her characters are right on the ball. Whitley's loneliness bleeds through the pages, and every other character has something about them that brings out their humanity. From Bailey's incident at the party and Nathan's history, I come to love each of Keplinger's characters in a way I didn't think possible in a single book.

Speaking of characters, if you're a fan of Keplinger's THE DUFF, you'll notice some crossover characters (Wesley, Bianca and Harrison) as well as some crossover settings, (such as the Nest.) Not only did this make it so much more satisfying as a reader, but they were subtle connections that were not necessary to understand the main story.

The emotions in this book do run strong. There are scenes that include rape scenarios, the consequences of partying, cyber-bullying, rumors, boys-- Keplinger has perfectly summed up that feeling of intense loneliness many teenage girls face. It's hard not to connect with Whitley, because who hasn't felt as though everyone has failed them and the world is against them? The emotions and tension are timed just right in this book, and the subject matter (such as the rape incident and the cyber-bullying) were handled well, without slipping into melodramatic territory. We want reality, not a soap opera!

All in all, this book was spectacular  It was not a book I powered through, but something I put down (with my finger marking the page!) and had to take moments to just think. I love books like that, and its rare that I find one that hits the subject matter so on the head. If you're a fan of contemporary, or are searching out books for girl readers, A Midsummer's Nightmare could not be a better choice.

Overall: 4.5/5 Stars