Creativity comes with a price and it’s usually suffering.
They say the best works of art, whether it’s paintings or novels, are the consequence of a tortured mind. I don’t know how much I agree with this, but I do feel that there is an element of truth to it. Sometimes, that degree of suffering is a smidge of mental illness. What they don’t tell you about is when anxiety doesn’t help but rather gets in the way of creating things.
Anxiety gives us Anxious Authors a different world view.
Dangers are more obvious to us and we take extra care to avoid things in the world that encourage our anxiety to take the wheel. We have a hell of a time keeping a balance between getting on with life and managing our anxiety sometimes. Especially in a world where neuro-diversity is in the early stages of appreciation.
Anxiety has done a great deal to hinder my author-ly progress in the past. It’s stopped me writing because nothing I put down is good enough. It’s stopped me publishing, crippling me with the fear that putting my next book out there could somehow lead to something horrible. The end of my career, maybe a notorious reputation for publishing something hilariously awful.
There are days I wish I could press “pause” on anxiety and just get on with life for a while. But, as ever, we have to power through and when that’s a tough ask, there are things we can do to make life a little easier. Or rather, there are tools we can use to help us get through our rough patches.
Here is a shopping list of all the things we Anxious Authors need to get through a difficult period:
1. Sound proof headphones
These things are a lifesaver in so many ways.
Screaming baby on plane? Headphones. Neighbours having a randy time upstairs? Headphones.
Sound proof headphones are the protectors of sanity, the guardians of stability. Over-stimulation during periods of heightened anxiety generally doesn’t help us cope. If you also happen to suffer with misophonia (a loathing of particular sounds – and also linked to heightened creativity), undesirable noises can be particularly distressing.
When things become a bit too much, popping these headphones on and playing some Mozart might be just the thing to help. Sometimes just the darn silence is better than listening to the bed squeaking in the flat above. (What am I saying, sometimes?)
Out of all the tools on this list, sound proof headphones has turned out to be the most useful!
2. Stress balls
Stress balls are great but they’re just a representation of all the amazing things we can use to reduce our stress.
Scream pillows. Punching bags. Food fights. You know, normal activities for stress release.
Whether it’s a fidget spinner or Chinese meditation balls, there’s going to be something out there that can help us ease our mental burdens just a little. We live in an age where mental health is taken slightly more seriously and as such, there is a staggering number of stress release toys out there. FYI, plenty of them are NSFW!
3. Dictation software
The enemy of mental health is holing ourselves up inside all day with no social interaction and no sunlight. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what Anxious Authors get paid to do. Sit down and write.
Any veteran author will know that it’s not always as simple as telling yourself to get up and go for a walk. Sometimes you’re so in the zone that you can’t bear to take a break and lose it. Because for sure, it could be ages until that happens again.
If outside or socialising isn’t an option, the least we can do is move. Movement is our friend, it helps keep everything ticking. Dictation software with a decent headset can allow us to get up and move around while we’re writing. Yes, we can get stuff done and have a gander. What a world we live in.
Dragon appears to be the most popular dictation software in my author circles and it’s the software I use. It really has changed the way I write. Verbalising my ideas as they’re written has meant I’ve developed them more quickly and given them greater depth.
But better yet, speaking distracts from any particularly strong anxieties I’m experiencing. Speaking the words you write gets me out of my head and helps me focus on the task at hand. It’s handy for banishing irrelevant anxious thoughts – you know, the ones that keep us up at night until 2am!
Thanks for reading! Read more Anxious Author posts here!