Writing Horror Part 5: All the Anxieties
Stress is something most if not all people experience in life. Whether it be financial, emotional, physical, professional - you will undoubtedly encounter stress in your life. Even kids stress about things.
For me there's stress and then there's anxiety. I stress about finances, I stress about my friends' health. I FEEL anxiety, it consumes me and stops me from doing things. And in writing, no one tells you about the different kinds of anxieties and stress that you face as you move through your author career. This is aside from the normal ones you just assume are there.
Ever drank so much alcohol that you literally couldn't function the next day. And I don't mean you had a headache and felt ill, I mean COULD NOT FUNCTION.
That is what a writing hangover feels like to me.
It happens when I finish a book. As you approach the end of the book it's so exciting and you're getting all the words out! WOOHOO! Then they're out. Some people will edit, some send straight to an editor (Me - I go over edits afterwards) and then you are ready to move on to the next book - especially if you're doing a rapid release.
But you Can't.
The words are gone.
The words won't word.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON I AM AN AUTHOR WHY CAN I NOT WRITE????
That's a book hangover. You're creatively spent. You need a chance to recharge. I'm not saying all authors suffer from this but I know a fair few that do. And it's horrible. You sit in front of the computer for hours, trying to get the words to go but find everything distracting because you can't word. And the minutes tick by and before you know it five hours have passed and you haven't done anything productive and it's time to go to bed.
You feel useless, you feel like you have failed. That anxiety that you feel trying to word after a book is finished is real and it sucks. I recently finished a book (Yesterday) and tried to five into the sequel today. Normally on a day off, I can do about 10/15 thousand words. I just edged over 5k. And now my anxiety is killing me. And no one tells you about it until it happens to you which sucks cause if you do know it happens, as I do, you can find ways to push through and not beat yourself up about it.
There is no greater anxiety you feel than when you have writer's block and you're on a deadline. So you put your book up for preorder because the words are flowing and then suddenly you have nothing. The plot is no longer working for you, you want to scrap everything, nothing is where it should be. Some people will say "why don't you have an outline?" Guess what, you've done the outline but now it seems so stupid to you.
I've restarted books four or five times before because I hit writer's block. Sometimes you think you have everything you need and everything figured out only for it to pop out and happen to you. Sometimes I'm lucky and it lasts a few days, sometimes it lasts a week. Last year it lasted months and I was writing maybe 200 words a week and deleting the next week before trying again.
They talk about writer's block like a ho-hum thing. Like yeah, that's what happens. But no one addresses the anxiety you feel when you get it, especially if you're trying to build a career out of writing.
I wasn't sure if this one fits under anxiety but it gives me anxiety. I've published over 20 books and been featured in several collections and anthologies. I still get imposter syndrome where I sit and look at everything and think... I'm not an author. If I was I'd be selling more, writing more, doing more and being more liked.
My mind spirals from that and if you naturally suffer from some sort of anxiety you'll know what I mean. The thoughts just get worse and worse the more you think, and yet you can't stop them. People tell you it's not true and to stop thinking like that but you can't help it. Some people can't help.
No one tells you how horrible it can get and feel.
Some people suffer from anxiety on the regular (Hello my name is Sian and I'm an anxious person because of trauma) - and people often ask me why I put so much pressure on myself if I suffer from anxiety.
You see it doesn't matter if you have writer's block, writing hangover, imposter syndrome or general anxiety because you are a creative and you need to write. And when those things aren't holding you back you can fly through books and make all the words. You know it will pass, it's just a case of when and what can you do to make it pass faster. Something that Toni and I do is share all successes with each other, small or big. I also share them with my sister who is a great supporter. That reassurance that I'm doing great no matter how small is epic.
Do you know an author and want to help? Then tell them you love their work. TELL THEM. Send them an email. Do a REVIEW - those are so important. I LOVE reading reviews even the bad ones because my book was read. Participate and engage with them on social media. Share their stuff. It costs you nothing and it makes the authors feel so amazing.
I'm actually anxious write now while writing this which is why I chose this topic. So apologies if my thoughts are a bit scattered but I acknowledge the anxiety in me and I'm going to roll with it.
Always lock your door