Writing Inspiration: What Do Your Nerves Tell You?



Gazing at me may make you feel calmer.

Yesterday I told you I had a kick-ass (one can only hope) post on letting go ready for you. Then I got distracted by the need to write about the Sopa Strike. And now here you are and you're reading a post on nerves.  What gives?  It makes more sense to write about nerves first and then letting go.

At least to me.

So, here's the story.  On Sunday, I wrote up the notes for Session Two of my Make Money Writing class.  I did a dry run. I was happy, I felt ready. 


Monday morning I awoke with a vague sense of nervousness and when I thought about it, I realized it was around the class.  Now, I always get a little nervous when I'm presenting a class.  And in this case, a few little nerves are good because they are about me wanting the class to be good, and full of useful information. 

But on this day it was more than just pre-class jitters.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized something was wrong.  So I went back to the notes.  Realized I had to rearrange one section.  And add another.  Did another dry run.  This time I felt peace.

 And the class was great.  (At least, I thought so.)

But this incident got me thinking how often nerves are a signal that something isn't working.  There are nerves and then there are nerves.  And we need to learn to pay attention to nerves.

The same thing happens in writing.  The feeling may not manifest exactly as nerves, but in an emotion closely related.  You may have a vague idea that something isn't right, but you don't know what.  Or perhaps it manifests as an inability to get to the page.

Pay Attention

And here's the deal: that feeling is always a signal that something is wrong.  Always.  It may be something as simple as needing to rearrange and add things, as with me.  Or it could be that the scene you are writing is taking place in the wrong location.  Or with the wrong people.  Maybe it is in the wrong order in your chronology.

So the moral of the story is to always, always, always pay attention to the feeling and try your best to identify what might be wrong.  (Good ways to do this include the usual suspects of meditation, free writing, playing hooky, flopping about dramatically on the couch–whatever works for you.) You'll save yourself tons of time in the long run if you pay attention to your nerves.

Has anything like this every happened to you?

A couple of points of interest:

1.  Jessica Baverstock, of Creativity's Workshop fame, is celebrating her 100th blog post today!  She's appeared in these pages regularly, so go pay her a visit to congratulate her.

2.  I have an interview over at Melissa Balmer's Womeonsocalbikes.org.  Its about "Finding the Female Advocate's Voice," and its pretty cool.

Don't forget to sign up for a subscription to my bi-weekly newsletter, The Abundant Writer.  The form is to the right, and you get a free Ebook, too!

Photo by D.C.Atty, from Everystockphoto.  And check out the cool new feature on Typepad–captions, yay!


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6 Responses to Writing Inspiration: What Do Your Nerves Tell You?

  1. Jessica Baverstock 01/20/2012 at 03:35 #

    Thanks for the link, Charlotte! :)

    I recently went through a bout of nerves, specifically related to how my e-book was going to come together. I thought if I just let things percolate in the back of my mind, things would all work out.

    They didn’t.

    In fact the nerves got worse. I wrote out notes in my notebook thinking once I got the ideas down on paper the nerves would get better.

    They didn’t.

    Eventually the nerves were so bad I found everything overwhelming. Then I realised I needed to sit myself down in front of the computer and actually *write*.

    Over the next two hours I got all my stuff out onto the page and organised, even coming up with new ideas which solved the problems I’d been worrying about. The feeling of relief afterwards was bordering on euphoria.

    I learned a valuable lesson that day. Sometimes the best way to get over nerves is to face the page and work through your worries. The solutions weren’t going to come until I actually got the stuff out on paper.

  2. Zan Marie 01/20/2012 at 05:49 #

    Hi, Charlotte!
    Nerves. I hate to admit that they are important clues to what’s wrong. Thanks for a great post.

    BTW, I signed up for the newletter, but the ebook didn’t want to download. Do you have a clue what I should do?

  3. Charlotte Dixon 01/20/2012 at 10:28 #

    Jessica, Sometimes it is so damn hard just to “face the page” as you put it. I can think of a million things to do instead of write, even cleaning, which I hate. And yet so much of what we need comes through in the writing. Thanks for chiming in with your experience.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 01/20/2012 at 10:29 #

    Zan Marie, every once in awhile someone has a hard time with the Ebook download, let me see if I can just send it to you via email. And thanks for signing up!

  5. Kyra Lennon 01/24/2012 at 07:32 #

    It’s interesting that you used the word “nerves” to describe that feeling when something just isn’t right. I never really looked at it that way before! Very recently, I have begun working on a project that I hadn’t worked on in years. It was those very nerves that actually made me give it up. I couldn’t see a way through the mess, couldn’t work out what was wrong, it just felt like something was missing.

    About two weeks ago – after probably three years of leaving it alone and letting it gather dust – I decided that it was about time my “novel” got finished. The moment I opened the file, the nerves were back, but I decided to fight through them. I have been a little on edge the whole time, but when I finally felt I had got it right – the relief was amazing!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/24/2012 at 07:51 #

    Oh, I love this story, Kyra! It is so exciting that you have gone back to a project that kept pulling at you. And I know exactly what you mean by the sense of relief. I think we writers live with a delicate tension every day–because we constantly feel that pull to write, and if we don’t, we feel off somehow. Or maybe even nervous.

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