Defeating Anxiety: How to Write Awesome Content without Fear

Getting past the anxiety of writing.

Writing awakens your insecurities.

It’s logical.

Writing is a solitary activity. Other people aren’t going to constantly validate or demean your writing. People need that to stay in the game.

Without feedback your insecurities have free rein.

It’s like how you imagine seeing shapes or colors with your eyes closed. There’s nothing there, but something appears. That apparition is from the lack of sensory perception. There’s nothing to see except interference.

Getting feedback from another person or even yourself helps.

Reading over what you’ve written opens your eyes to what’s really there.

In a vacuum of perception, your fears, anxieties and insecurities take over.

Battling Anxiety

1. Before sitting down to write.

Follow your routine.

2. In the process of writing.

Read something you’ve written before that you know is good. Truth scares away anxiety.

3. After you’re done writing.

Ask someone you trust to read it and give you feedback. Don’t be blind to your successes or your improvement.

Perfection doesn’t exist.

Striving for perfection leaves you stranded.

Too scared to try or too scared to move on to something else that could work better.

The goal here is improvement.

Improving is growth. That’s all you want.

Unattainable goals like perfection sap away your motivation.

No matter how hard I try, my goal doesn’t get closer, so why should I even try.

Something achievable keeps you coming back each day.

Coming back day after day and putting in the work separates a great writer from a writer lost in the crowd.

GK

Don’t be a Slave to the Writing Process

Figure out your writing process. Don’t follow one blindly.

There are methods or a “process” that a writer uses.

You’ll be questioned about process if you ever get anything published in any meaningful way. But process can’t be transplanted from writer to writer. It’s something you have to discover for yourself.

Ray Bradbury wrote about his process.¹

  1. Make lists of what he’s thinking, short one to two word phrases.
  2. Find something that has a story behind it and write a lyric poem.
  3. Keep going as lyric poem turns into prose.

Following that process doesn’t work for me.

  1. I can’t write poetry.
  2. I can’t keep lists, because I barely have enough time to write as is.

My method is wildly different.

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Come up with ideas when inspiration strikes or meditation leads me there.
  3. Run through everything I plan to write again in a meditative state.
  4. Sit down and type very slowly. That’s as fast as I can type.

That process isn’t going to work if your lived experience is different than mine.

Writing is an individualized act.

The product is generally recognized, but there are umpteenth ways to arrive there.

You’ll have varying success with everything you try.

It speaks to how difficult writing is.

You need to discover the process that best suits you.

It’ll be a mixed bag of the processes out there that no other writer uses to the letter.

Things like this are best figured out when you try things, everything you can find within reason until something gets you writing to the best of your ability.

It’ll be something close to who you are deep inside your soul.

Maybe you’re from the meditation camp or the poetry camp.

Whatever works is your process.

Resources

  1. Bradbury, Ray. Zen in The Art of Writing (p. 11-12). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

GK

Vulnerability for a Genuine Connection with your Reader

The advantage of letting people in through writing.

Connection is a scarce resource.

New ways of connecting like social media, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world simulate connection without delivering.

It’s time to return to what worked in the past, writing.

The opportunity for deep connection is slipping away. Reading is the only way to get that back.

Connecting with your reader is the purpose of publishing writing.

Connection is the purpose of a human life.

It’s the innate spark that has driven everything good we’ve ever done. Writing, scientific discovery, and cooperation are manifestations of that desire.

Being alone is one of the most painful things we can experience.

As writers, we’re in a unique position to fill that need of connection.

Being vulnerable is how you make that happen.

Connection requires the strength to be vulnerable — letting people into your life with the possibility of getting hurt.

That’s one of the things a writer must overcome to connect with readers.

The process goes something like this.

The people reading your work feel close to you.

Readers open their heart and soul to you, because you have already done the same.

Then your message gets across to be interrogated and verified.

If the message pans out, the reader interrogates their life with it.

We’re wired to seek out connection.

Being vulnerable is how you get there.

GK

Repackage your Truth to Write Something Great

The reason to “write what you know”

Write what you’ve lived.

Passion and motivation accrue when your writing something you believe to be. Your lived experience is a powerful tool that gives you insight where few others have it. Because each life is different and everyone is slightly different, we come at things from different perspectives.

People read to find insight about human nature.

That’s why fiction and memoirs sell as well as they do.

Share what you know better than anybody else.

People want truth, and truth comes from life. The life you’ve lived means something no matter how you’ve repackaged it.

Fiction shows a truth about life by changing the situation.

Making the facts stand out like they never could in real life. Sometimes real life can do that too.

You can’t choose your life

You sure can choose characters, a setting, and a plot that shows your truth.

Writing on Medium (where this originally appeared)

Personal stories of facing adversity do really well. That’s the focus of Medium at this point. Fiction is hidden in some back corner.

People come here for stories about people changing

Being true to yourself does really great here, because the community is supportive in a way few places are across the web. Medium is growing a lot still. That has to mean something. Sharing stories of life, of your truth bring people to you. That’s the story Medium tells us.

That’s a formula many prolific writers on Medium employ.

They write personal stories and other types of posts like poetry, fiction, thought pieces, and interviews. Like Meg, Abby Norman, and E Price — the examples I remember off the top of my head.

Put your truth out there and people will come.

GK

Slaughterhouse-Five and The Handmaid’s Tale: Things to Like

Reading can show our lives reflected in a myriad of ways.

I have this allergy to classics.

Most books written before the 1950’s that is. I find sleep creeping up on me like an unfulfilled need. That’s after having a full seven hours sleep and not feeling tired at all. Something about them is dull enough to put me to sleep, and it’s just me. Unlike some, a book before 1950 takes me to sleep quicker than anything else.

Slaughterhouse-Five

I whizzed through the first chapter or two. Those chapters were Vonnegut trying to remember what happened in the war and preparing to write. There was this great exchange that setup the themes to come.

“You were just babies then!” she said.

“What?” I said.

“You were just babies in the war — like the ones upstairs!”

I nodded that this was true…

“But you’re not going to write it that way, are you.” This wasn’t a question. It was an accusation…

So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry.¹

Then the story started. Throughout I was confused about what was going on. The non-linearity threw me off.

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between.²

I ended up grouping the events of the story into parallel stories.

One was the war. The other was after the war. And the third was being abducted by non-linear aliens. That reminded me of Arrival. The movie is two parallel stories that each follows a linear progression. It’s much easier to follow than the leaping Vonnegut did. That makes me believe I didn’t get everything out of reading Slaughterhouse 5. A whole bunch of symbolism was lost on me.

I kept trying to find a rationale reason for this time hopping.

Maybe he’s in the POW camp imaging his possible future. The more likely scenario is he’s an old man looking back on his life. That distracted me from looking at other more important things. The skipping around was a way to give the reader moments away from the conditions suffered in the POW camp.

A few comical moments made me laugh in the beginning.

But lost their humor. Now, I suspect that was intentional. The dark humor came when some thing dies, and Billy thinks So it goes. It speaks to the universality of death, whether it be fleas, cows, or people.

The Handmaid’s Tale.

It’s about an alternate divergence of history in the 1970’s.

Society regresses to an ancient state. Woman became a possession of men again has it hadn’t been in a while. The pressure on the society was great enough to allow it to happen. The story looked almost prophetic seeing the way history progressed from 2001 onward. The adoption of the Patriot Act in a time of intense pressure from the outside.

Some things in the book made me angry.

Like the way anything could be used to further a decrepit political ideology. The subjugation of a weaker group by the numerous and privileged. The impeachablity of the dominant sex and blaming the subordinate sex. The society described in The Handmaid’s Tale annoyed me, like the backwardness espoused by ethnocentric people. The subjugation of woman by other women was disheartening. Though that is actually a fact a lot of the time. Like the installation of a puppet government by a foreign government. The foreign power chooses a native figurehead and puts them in a position of power over their countrymen. The use of a select portion of the Jewish people by the Nazi’s to police the ghettos set up in Nazi Germany. And the symbolic position of people that had no real power.

The Handmaid’s Tale is about surrogacy without modern medicine.

That basically means state sponsored rape of woman with successful pregnancies and multiple marriages. The fact it’s government sponsored and enforced leads to normalization of rape. Reading through those scenes made me confused, because the Handmaid telling the story was so distant all the time. During the trauma that makes sense, but after it’s confusing. I don’t think society as a whole was ready to have an honest discussion about rape when this book was published.

A few passages resonated with my lived experience.

I’ll list those and explain their significance.

In reduced circumstances you have to believe all kinds of things. I believe in thought transference now, vibrations in the ether, that sort of junk. I never used to.³

I see this happening in my life.

Living with a limiting condition like Muscular Dystrophy is another version of reduced circumstances. That probably had some impact on my belief in meditation. And how ready I am to believe things based on very little evidence. I need that illusion of having control more control than I do with meditation and karma, so the situations I find myself in aren’t quite as helpless as they really are. Control is what we want in life, but the only way to get that is controlling what you can and letting the rest go. Holding control over everything means you have a little control over a lot of things. When all we really need is great/er control of the few things that matter, like our view of the world, and the way we move through it.

In reduced circumstances the desire to live attaches itself to strange objects. I would like a pet: a bird, say, or a cat. A familiar. Anything at all familiar. A rat would do, in a pinch, but there’s no chance of that.⁴

I hang on to things I’ve made.

Especially with abilities I no longer possess like drawing, writing with a pencil, or walking. And the projects I devote my limited time to like the stories I’ve written. When people lose a little of the autonomy that those around them have, they cling to the limited things that they have control over.

It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.⁵

I include too much detail.

This is something I encountered in the beginning of my writing journey. My stories were too muddled with extraneous description making it completely uninteresting to read. Some blog posts I’ve written were like that a year ago. Choosing specific details, the right details separates first-hand experiences from imagined situations. But choosing that is a mental process so replicable. That’s what using senses in your writing is all about. Choosing the right details to put into writing the transport you there, and make something more real than fiction ought to be.

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.⁶

We want things we believe we deserve.

When things don’t happen how we like, we fixate on those qualities we hoped to attain but failed at. Then we see it everywhere around where it wasn’t noticed before. Jealousy happens when we want things we can’t have. Other people that have those things become the focus of our jealousy. That reminded me of the rampant jealousy I feel, because there’s so much I can’t do that I ought to be able to do. You can be jealous of anyone if they have something you believe you’re entitled to. The costs of those things are lost, just the object is remembered. Like writing everyday requires giving up other things like reading articles, social media, checking e-mails, listening to music, or responsibilities. People just remember the accomplishment of making progress. The cost is payable, and the benefit is attainable.

The arrival of the tray, carried up the stairs as if for an invalid. An invalid, one who has been invalidated.⁷

People can be invalidated by taking away their autonomy.

But an invalid suffered from an injury or disease. That was a powerful reminder of the fact that people can only take away what you allow them to. I have always been impaired by Muscular Dystrophy. My struggle has been making people see beyond my physical appearance to the stuff inside. I’m like everyone else on the inside. The only thing wrong with me is the external — my muscles are weak. Fighting for what I am, the person inside to be seen has been with me my whole life. What other people think about my ability doesn’t change the facts.

God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total.⁸

Love is a concept that we need to believe in.

It’s a security blanket that we will find this magic person that makes us feel loved the way our parents loved us. It’s like hope. It’s like God. It’s like dreams. Those concepts are what we need to keep living life. They are the promises that keep us going. Without them there is no life — there is on death — there is no meaning. Things that are necessary don’t fade away. They endure. They become justified no matter the circumstances. They grow to meet challenges. They are immune to the wear of time. They don’t fade away. There is no recourse in life but to believe, to have faith that they are always right and pure. Then to see things just right so that the illusion never blinks out of existence, because they are necessary for life.

I’m a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I’ve left or been forced to leave behind me, and it all seems just as quaint, from here, and I am just as obsessive about it… I become too maudlin, lose myself. Weep.⁹

Things might change but there is always something left of the old.

Change isn’t to wash clean a chalkboard and write something new. Change is painting over an old masterpiece and leaving bits of the old in place to marry with the new. Things don’t vanish. They are reinvented, tweaked, and damaged, but they never disappear from existence no matter how we cling or try to forget. Things never leave the world. They are remade over and over. Transformation isn’t transient. It’s the constant state of life. Even death isn’t stagnation. It’s a redistribution.

That’s all I have on these two great books.


Hope you enjoyed reading. Please clap if you did.

References

  1. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (pp. 18–19). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
  2. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five (p. 29). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
  3. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 105). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  4. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 111). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  5. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 134). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  6. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 161). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  7. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 224). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  8. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (pp. 225–226). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  9. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale (p. 227). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

GK

How To Defeat Codependence From The Inside

My story of self-discovery and figuring out a path to change.

Thought I’d talk about my research into codependence.

Identify the Problem.

I’ve been reading this writer, Kris Gage. Her articles about love are refreshing. They deconstruct love and reassemble it in a new way that actually makes more sense.

Society shows us unhealthy love.

Love as a search for the one, a mystical being that opens you to a whole new world and completes you (personality, intellectual understanding, and physical deficiencies).

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
-Plato, The Symposium

That’s an impossible predicament. There’s this one partner that can complete us.

I had a few other theories about love.

Any two people forced together for long enough can fall in love, like a patient falling for her therapist except without the patient/therapist relationship. The way survivors of a tragedy are bonded in a special way.

That view supported the beliefs I had coming in. People have to give up something to be liked and appreciated.

Kris Gage supports an independent kind of love.

Kris Gage’s articles interested me in hopes of learning about blog and fiction writing. I was wondering how Kris Gage had such depth in her articles.

And how she discovered another way to love instead of the scarcity, codependence, and elusivity model that’s at the forefront.

Photo by Gabriella Sudjono on Unsplash

I enjoy reading posts that analyze a topic in-depth.

Like the posts of Emma Lindsey, Zaron Burnett III, or Abby Norman.

Sometimes through meditation I can dissect my own inner mental landscape in the same way these writers analyze their perspective fields.

Getting that in the form of a well thought out or researched article works just as well.

We’re drawn to voices that are familiar to our own.

Kris Gage extensively researches her articles.

Could I replicate that?

Researching that way isn’t something that motivates me.

A recent Kris Gage post refutes the concept of motivation, but I’m not convinced. Motivation can be built by working with motivation or without.

I’ve already chosen a method to live life on my own terms, meditation.

But this article isn’t about writing articles on Medium.

It’s about things I’m trying to change about myself.

Reading one of Gage’s posts got me to this article is Psychology Today about codependence.

I dived into these linked articles from that one.

Identify Associated Thought Patterns

It was revelatory, reading this article.

Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash

I am codependent.

Codependence starts with looking for approval instead of love that wasn’t easily accessible. That quest for approval starts with being perfect and hoping for approval.

That never came even when I was perfect, the miniature adult I became in place of my true personality. I followed rules like they were my bible. Telling on others became my pass-time. Getting better grades became my obsession and point of jealousy.

We’re all motivated to be loved as children.

Children in that type of situation subjugate their true self and deny preferences long enough that they barely exist at all.

They simply take on the preferences of those closest to them in hopes of acceptance.

For years, when people asked me my favorite color my answer would be “I don’t have one.” Same for if I liked something. I don’t know. No one told me.

The last part was something I figured out how to hide.

I became frustrated that nothing I did was ever good enough.

Then I learned to protect myself other ways.

Manipulation, Passive-Aggressiveness, and Evasion.

I got away from a situation when it started to deteriorate imperceptibly to most people. I became attuned to other people’s unexpressed emotions and found ways to manage those to protect myself.

I revealed secrets to protect myself from criticism. I blamed other people for everything going wrong.

What could’ve been bad enough to teach me those methods for my own protection?

It was criticism and withholding approval.

That seems innocuous in relation to those responses, but it worked that way.

That’s why I’m such a mess in some areas of my life, my social life being the biggest thing.

Those destructive thought patterns innervate my personality, intellectual understanding of the world, and the way I interact with my environment.

Identify the Cost of stagnation.

I crave approval to such a degree and get hurt from criticism too much.

I try to be so smart all the time so people will want me around.

I have trouble trusting people, because at some level I believe I don’t deserve them to help me if I don’t give up something in the process.

I give up stuff in the belief it’ll make people like me. Invariably that doesn’t work, and I get frustrated.

I think too much about what other people want and deny what I want.

I’ve been doing those things for so long, I have trouble knowing who I am.

Identify the Rewards of Growth

Photo by Tobi Oluremi on Unsplash

Those were things that I couldn’t have realized without meditation.

Therapy, religious belief, or other forms of meditation would’ve also gotten me there.

Therapy isn’t easily realized given the fact I can’t speak anymore.

Following a religious document isn’t conducive with my rampant trust issues.

I’m working on detangling those systems I developed for protection to find the person I am under it all. It’s a continuation of the path meditation put me on.

This is part of fixing myself, finding the things off with my mental landscape and rectifying those faults and frailties.

I have a skewed perception of my personality.

Something is wrong with me, and I’ve always been trying to fix it in hopes of being loved.

Changing into a better person would fix everything wrong with my life. That’s why I started.

Being a better person will help, but being loved doesn’t hinge on that. I know that now.

Going through with this is terrifying.

I have no idea what exists beneath this artifice erected over all these years.

I feel a sense of loss and growth that doesn’t fit together.

A nice short poem I wrote about how that feels:


You fell for me, and it was love.
But love wasn’t everything.
It is what was meant to be
It’s even better than ecstasy.
Of all the things I’ll see,
That was what was meant to be.
Things won’t be the same forevermore.
Maybe they never could be.
Of all the things in the world and the sea,
I’ll never know what was lost to me.
A turning point wasn’t a moment.
It came a surprise.
In the end, it doesn’t matter a figment
What they think about you and me.
I had love, and now it’s lost to me.

I explored Myers-Briggs personality typing.

It helped me figure out who I am inside.

And presented the goal I should strive for.

Kris Gage helped with that as well with this personality typing article that I didn’t understand at first.

Research over months got me to a place where I could understand, with the help of this article.

I’m not sure where this goes, but this seems like the right direction.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

GK

Finding Love Again on a Rooftop

This is a short love story.


 

It was a party in the City. Some miracle got me invited. It was one of those rooftop affairs, not that I’d ever been. Strings of mini-lights hung overhead. Music tickled our ears like the cool night. It was me and a few girlfriends in the middle of the roving throng.

That’s when he came over. Tina knew him. He smiled like a dozen stars, and I was seeing spots. Brad. Somehow the minutes ticked by, and we were alone surrounded by strangers.

“You look sexy as hell. Megan was it?”

A splash of heat rose to my face with my laugh and how he made me feel. His words would’ve been awkward, if I didn’t like him already. There I was, alone with the honest, handsome fellow. My yes was meek as a field mouse in the general din.

“Want to dance?”

“Anytime.” We laughed. Everyone was dancing, so why shouldn’t we?

How did I know Tina? What a wonderful party? What a night? It was quite something.

My girlfriends were absent or giggling at our flirtations. But it wasn’t bad in the hands of handsome Brad. It was something great.

We danced and danced, then drinks on the rooftop. It was the perfect night up there, above the bustling street. Our hands met after signaling back and forth. We turned to each other minutes later and tilted our heads. As our lips met, possibilities flashed before my eyes.

 

GK

 

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