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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? How can you become less anxious about publishing? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
How can you become less anxious about publishing? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach, still in pandemic mode.
I have a question from Michelle Roberge, a writer based in Vincennes, France. Here’s what she’s asked by email….
“I am very comfortable with writing and editing, both of which I enjoy. But I strongly resist hitting the “post” button for my blog. When the deadline arrives, I’m always so anxious that I often postpone. I don’t think that I’m being perfectionistic about editing — but I don’t know what’s going on. Can you give me any advice?”
Thanks for your question, Michelle. Let me begin by saying I’m not a psychologist. But I’ve been closely exposed to the torture of anxiety because one of my children has a diagnosed anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can be debilitating.
If you want to deal with your own anxiety, I highly recommend taking a look at the book Mind Over Mood by Greenberger and Padesky. Link is in the show-notes.
This book uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, otherwise known as CBT — a technique that was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960s. Some therapists are trained in using CBT and, generally speaking, their services are extremely expensive. But it is also something you can do for yourself, simply by following the exercises in this book.
In fact, I highly recommend Mind Over Mood to anyone who has any anxiety associated with writing, at whatever stage the anxiety appears — whether researching, writing, editing or publishing.
CBT is not a type of positive thinking. Instead, it focuses on challenging your negative thoughts and making a rational plan for how to face them.
CBT is based on the idea that we all have “automatic thoughts,” and many of them are negative. In your case, this may include such thoughts as:
- There’s probably an error in my blog post and it’s going to make me look stupid
- I don’t know if I’ve explained myself clearly enough and my words may simply confuse readers
- No one is ever going to want to read a word of what I’ve written
If we learn to identify and evaluate these automatic thoughts, however, we can start thinking more realistically – and productively!
The key message from CBT is this: Our thoughts affect our behaviours. And if we want to change our behaviours, we need to change our thoughts.
If you want to use CBT to help yourself, begin by starting what’s called a “Thought Record.” (You can download a form at no charge from the authors of Mind Over Mood, in a link I provide in the show-notes.) If you need more instruction, I’ve also written my own blog post on the subject and the link is in the show-notes there as well.
Dealing with anxiety will not only help make publishing easier for you, it’s going to improve your life overall, as well.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from the Brazillian writer Paulo Coelho: “Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.”
Michelle, your question demonstrates to me the enormous power of the human mind. We are smart, hardworking, competent people and yet we can tie ourselves in knots as a result of fear. Take steps so you don’t need to let fear hold you back.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.