3 Things

3 Things I Wish I’d Known: Writing & Learning to Breathe

Did you know that, if you want to be a professional writer, you have to keep writing — every! stinkin! day! — even when your body + mind is wracked by anxiety? It’s almost like writing is a job. I am displeased.

But writing has technically been my job for almost a decade now: when I’m not writing fiction, I’m a working journalist. I can’t make money if my fingers aren’t attached to a keyboard. So here is how I survive:

1. Rein in your goals. Here’s what makes anxiety worse: setting way-too-high goals for yourself and beating yourself up when you don’t achieve them. I’m totally going to write 5,000 words today. I’m 100% going to edit three chapters.

Except I know I’m not, and setting these too-high standards just leads to worse stress later.

2. Celebrate the small things. I wrote 500 words?! Time to celebrate. Take pride in the accomplishments you do achieve — no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem. You’re still doing — and that’s what’s important.

3. Enjoy your routine. When I’m deep in the throes of No I Caaaaaaan’ttttt, a set routine helps tremendously. For me, it’s: tea or a glass of wine + music + a candle + a big, comfy blanket. Turn the volume up high and relax and I can almost — almost — eke out a few words.

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