There are two sides to how the world perceives anxiety and they often battle it out on social media. One side sees anxiety as a handicap that impairs us and makes us different, the other as a superpower that allows us to put a unique spin on our creations.
Did anyone think that it’s possible anxiety is both?
Anxiety has a habit of crippling us one day and in the next, revealing what unique insights we have gathered through our experiences with it. It’s a lot easier to see the former and not the latter but the truth is, Anxious Authors are highly attuned to the world. Because being ridiculously aware of what’s going on around us and majorly overthinking it is kinda our thing.
Whether you’re an optimistic Anxious Author or not, there are some advantages to anxiety that we shouldn’t overlook:
1. Anxious Authors are empathy gurus.
We aren’t going to admit to this of course because, you know, anxiety. But Anxious Authors know what it means to suffer at the hands of self-esteem issues, panic attacks and dizzying worry over social faux pas. Not only do these struggles prepare us for empathising with the struggles of real-life people but also the characters we create in our books.
Aside from the struggles, anxiety has us Anxious Authors worrying often about what others think of us. This ability, though thoroughly irritating in real life, is a great tool for putting ourselves in the shoes of our characters and how they might react to people and/or situations. Without the added pressure of our characters being real people, we can think clearer about their motives, intentions and desires.
2. Anxious Authors are highly sensitive.
And not just emotionally, which is also a bummer sometimes. On the days anxiety hits us hard, our senses gear themselves up. Sounds seem louder, smells more overpowering and we can sense that the postman has just turned onto the street without even looking (OK a bit of an exaggeration but some days that’s how it feels).
This experiences aren’t necessarily pleasant but they give us a deeper insight into our senses, how they behave and how their variations affect us. This insight is a great tool in creating depth in our characters’ experiences and that’s the kind of thing that will really immerse a reader.
3. Anxious Authors are naturally creative.
It’s no secret that artistic people are often plagued with mental health problems. If Vincent van Gough isn’t enough of an example, read this article on QZ about the correlations between creativity and anxiety.
Anxiety is a consequence of a creative mind; one that can imagine anything, including dire futures and worst-case scenarios. While we Anxious Authors often wish that our persistent fears would scarper, the good news is that our active imagination means we are capable of creating anything.
Entire worlds and visions are within our reach because we are wired the way we are. It’s not always glamorous, in fact sometimes it’s downright scary. But those warm moments of beauty and clarity that we earn from having created something from scratch, that we’re proud of, that better yet others might actually enjoy, are some compensation for the struggles we face.
Anxiety is no walk in the park and it can debilitate us as freely as it empowers us at times. But there are times when I am grateful to be an Anxious Author, usually after reading a positive review on a book I recently released. In several ways, my anxiety helped me get there and though I don’t think I’m quite ready to thank it, it has its useful moments.
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