Friday, August 24, 2012

Reducing anxiety in your creative life

Listening to a podcast by Eric Maisel this morning, I was struck by a statement he made that the act of choosing almost always provokes anxiety. His example was choosing a bagel over oatmeal and all of our mental ideas about which is healthier, more fattening, etc. I resonated both with the example and the idea of choosing as anxiety-provoker and I thought about how much anxiety there is around choosing to write or do other creative endeavors.

When we think about sitting down to write, to choose to do that, anxiety gets provoked in many of us. Is this the best use of my time? Is it a frivolous use of my time? What if I don't produce anything good? What if I don't have any ideas? Something potentially quite pleasurable becomes a source of tremendous discomfort.

This anxiety gets eliminated if you write every day. If you have a commitment to sit down and write something, there is no choosing, hence no anxiety. There may still be judgement about what you write, but there isn't any anxiety about doing it. You just do it.

So consider whether a solid commitment and practice of writing or other creative endeavor might reduce anxiety for you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

books that stay with you

For the last week, I've been spending my early morning writing time on a new project while my novel chills so I can get some distance from it before I start a rewrite/edit. I've had an idea in my mind for a good while on a couple of nonfiction books: one on sugar addiction and one on creativity. But I've not had a good idea for how to begin.

I was sitting at my computer last Sunday, just thinking about this, and I remembered a book I read sometime in my early 20s. It was a book of ruminations by John Fowles. I had been a Fowles fan for some time, reading The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Collection, Daniel Martin, and bought this smaller volume because I so liked his style. It was called The Aristos, and it was a series of short entries, thoughts, ideas, about the meaning of life. I don't remember any particular ideas although I remember resonating with many of the entries. What came back to me last week was this format.

Rather than having to have well-thought-out essays or an outline, I could just start with some ideas, a couple of paragraphs in length and then move on. It seemed a very appropriate and intriguing way to get my thoughts moving. And so all this past week, I've been doing that. I'm not writing quickly, one or two entries a day, but I'm started. And that's the main thing. My thanks to John Fowles.