5 Ways to End Worrying and Write (Or Create)

Worrying is not good for your writing or your creativity.  Or anything else, really.  How can you write the next great American novel when you are obsessing about how to pay the bills?  Or if your marriage is going to survive?  Or if your teenager is going to make it through high school without getting kicked out?

You can't.

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Because when your brain is full of worries and obsessions, there's not a lot of room for creative thoughts or ideas.  Or fictional characters who come to life on the page.  Or lyrical descriptions of locations. 

Even little, garden-variety worries can derail a work session.  For instance, worrying about what to cook for dinner can distract you from working on a book chapter.  Pondering paying bills might derail your work on your memoir  for several days.  And so on.

What to do? How to prevent worrying from stopping your writing?  Try some of the following ideas:

1. Journal.  For writers, writing is often the cure.  If you are feeling so angsty and anxious that you can't work, grab your journal and write about it.  Even if you only do five or ten minutes it can help.  In truth, often five or ten minutes of journaling is all it takes to turn yourself around.  Write specifically about the worry.

2. Meditate or Pray.  I'm better at prayer than meditation, I'll be honest.  And when I speak of prayer, I mean it in the broadest of terms–pray to God, to the universe, to Buddha, to the goddess, to your higher self, to your boyfriend, or your ancestors.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is asking for help.  That is what makes a difference.  You can easily do this in meditation, too.  Just ask for whatever you need help with, such as ending worrying, and begin a meditation session.

3.  Active Imagination.  One of my favorite techniques, this can be like prayer on paper.  Choose who you are going to ask for help from, (any of the above will do nicely), and then write your question, with dialogue tags.  So,

Charlotte: I need help

God: What can I do for you?

And so on.  The other thing you can do that is really cool is to embody your problem and talk to it.  Give worry a personality and talk to it, ask it what it needs to be quiet and let  you work.

4.  Affirmation or Affirmative Prayer.  If you tend to worry and obsess over the same old things, identify them and write an affirmation about the positive incarnation of it.  Example:  I, Charlotte, am so happy and grateful that I now have a published novel, rather than damn it, why haven't I heard from that agent yet?  This really helps to turn obsessive and negative thoughts around.  The trick is to have identified the negative thought ahead of time and have the affirmation ready to go to counter it.

5.  Find Comfort.  You're worrying for a reason, no doubt, because all of us have problems that distract us.  Sometimes what you need to do is give yourself a little love.  Figuring out what the root cause of the worry is and do something about it helps.  But so does uncovering the emotion that is driving your obsession and tending to it.  Maybe you'll find comfort in taking a walk, or sitting by a fire for a bit.  Or petting your cat, or reading.  Taking a few minutes to ease your worries can do wonders for your attitude.

So now, if  you figured out ways to end worrying and focus on your writing, how much more could you get done?

 Photo by Shazbot, from Flickr.

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10 Comments on "5 Ways to End Worrying and Write (Or Create)"

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Derek
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Derek
A really useful post here Charlotte. As you probably know I already meditate – it is the only way to start the day for me. When it comes to focusing on my writing, my issues are mostly with the little every-day worries that do tend to niggle away – it’s a challenge as a Zen practitioner, to have even more of these than a non-Zen practitioner I think. Without them I wouldn’t be motivated to practice Zen, so they keep me aware and on my toes! For me, the answer is to develop that “feel the pain and do it… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thanks, Derek. So if you are writing and the worries start to bother you do you stop and meditate for a bit to ease them?

And I do know what you mean about publishing writing online–it is so very direct and instantaneous! But I’m glad you submitted this comment.

Patrick Ross
Guest

This is a great post, and useful for me right now.

I’d add having some external moral support, a spouse, parent, child, fellow creative, someone who can understand, pat you on the head, and say “there, there.”

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Excellent addition, Patrick!

David Paine
Guest

Love this. Especially #3. I’m going to try that one – I have quite a list – immediately after cocktail hour. Ex-wife and ex-sister-in-law coming by for a drink. Otherwise I’d do it during.

Sorry to be absent so long. Always good to read your stuff!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

David, Your comment makes me think I need to add another to my list of ways to end worry and that would be: have a drink. I miss your cocktails but I’ll be back in December so hopefully you can make me one then!

Don
Guest
This is a great post Charlotte, and I totally agree with it 100%, but, please note: as flattered as I was to see you use my official portrait photo to illustrate your post, I would appreciate it, in the future, if you try to remember to ask my permission before hand, ok? It’s ok, I’ll forgive you this time since Shazbot didn’t exactly ask for my permission to take my picture and put it on Flickr in the first place! On a serious note, I have to confess that it has been awhile since I’ve been able to read your… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

OMG, Don, you scared me for a minute. I try to be so careful about crediting images…I hope the fact that you are getting back to your own blog means that you and your mother are feeling better. Sending you good healing thoughts and prayers.

Ijeoma
Guest
Ijeoma

Thanks very encouraging… i feel relief i can now start my book… may God help me accomplish my dreams.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Good luck!

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