Monday, July 5, 2010

Progressing Instead of Regressing in Our Writing Endeavors

How to Avoid Developing Writer’s Apprehension Disorder (WAD) Part 2: Anxiety

Have you stopped writing because you feel apprehensive about how others will respond to your work? Are you battling negative or anxious thoughts about who you are as a writer or questioning if you are a writer? If you have these symptoms and are hesitating to continue writing because someone gave you negative feedback, then you are probably suffering from WAD: Writer’s Apprehension Disorder. In part 2, we will focus on anxiety.

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Do we not always feel uncertain while we are writing and while we are waiting for a response from an agent or publisher? Philippians 4:6 states that we should be anxious for nothing. That is easier said than done. If we’ve finished the work and edited it to the best of our ability, then we should submit the novel, right? However, if we become anxious at this stage of the process we will feel hesitancy instead of confidence at submitting our work. Below are several reasons why:

• We feel we are not a good enough writer.
• We feel our story is not good enough to sell.
• We fear we missed errors and/or typos.
• We feel the rejection (how dare we automatically assume we’ll be rejected?) will be too painful and we can’t cope.
• We fear we’ll be left with a sense that we have nothing left to contribute and should quit.

If you have experienced any of the above feelings, you are not alone. In Write Away, bestselling author Elizabeth George states, “Writing continues to be a scary proposition for me, as I don’t see myself as particularly talented and I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to massage novels out of my meager storehouse of gifts. Daily, I show up at the computer, and I hope for the best. But when I’m reading someone’s stunning first novel –like Cold Mountain or Ingenious Pain, a British first novel that I’m reading- I think, what am I doing? My God, I am so insignificant a storyteller in comparison with these guys. But then I tell myself that all I can do is my best, telling the story as well as I can, leaving the rest up to God.” (157; Harper Collins, 2004)

If we did the best we could why should we feel our work is not good enough? I found after reading one of my favorite authors that my work just can’t compare. However, I need to realize that I shouldn’t be comparing my work with hers but viewing my work for its own value.

I believe even the most skilled writers fear they’ve missed an error or typo. The solution to that is easy. Have someone else read and critique the work. A second set of eyes should be able to pick up anything you miss.

We all have to deal with rejection, not just in our writing. We need to realize and accept that rejection isn’t just a part of life, but a part that we can use to our benefit. We may feel our work is finished only to find ourselves rejected because the work isn’t finished. We can huff and stomp a foot or we can get back to the drawing board and finish it. Chances are by going over the work again the writing will improve and the characters appear more alive. So while we hate the pinch of rejection let’s celebrate the growth as a writer and the more powerful and enjoyable outcome of the newly edited novel.

Sometimes we all battle with the sense that we have no purpose and have nothing left to offer the world. That’s when we tell ourselves maybe we should just give up writing altogether. These would be times when feelings of depression are creeping in and must be squashed with the Word of God. Jeremiah 29:11 states that God knows the plans He has for each of us. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(NIV)

No matter what stage of dread or anxiety we may be battling, the best thing to do is go straight to the Word of God. In those scriptures we will find truth and comfort. We will also find the will to continue what God has ordained us to do.

Are you experiencing anxiety? Can you think of other symptoms of anxiety causing hesitation in submitting or continuing your work?


  1. Yes! I am using people I know while writing my book. It helps me keep all the characters straight! It's fun too. The guy who broke my heart a long time ago is balding and crazy in the pages of my book. Great therapy. LOL!

  2. I like your way of creating characters using people you know and recreating them experiencing the consequences for their earlier actions. I think I'll try that. I've had my heart broken several times and like they say, payback is hell.