Monday, October 18, 2010

Conquering anxiety one day at a time

When I was in college, I spent a summer in Dumaguete City, Philippines, working for a Christian organization supporting impoverished children and families. Every morning everyone in the organization was expected to meet at sunrise. Together we sang:
This is the day that the Lord has made
We will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day
This is the day that the Lord has made
To a young, cynical American, awkward in a foreign country, it felt hokey. But I grew to love those morning services. Even for those who aren't religious, I think the song's message is pretty powerful. This is a new day which we have been given. Let's not waste it.

I was going to post this morning about how anxious I've been lately. I've been struggling with my new project (which I'm calling Project Demo). Is it good enough? Is the main character strong enough to carry a story? The writing has been painfully slow and labored. Perhaps I should just scrap the whole thing? Meanwhile, my tutor emailed me and all of my fellow classmates to let us know she was in the midst of grading our final manuscripts. Anxiety city!

But last night I decided I was going to try something new with Project Demo. I began Project Sparkle by writing individual scenes, not starting at the beginning. Instead of agonizing over the beginning, why didn't I do the same thing with Project Demo?

So I woke up early this morning. The sky was dark, though streaked with pink from the rising sun. I figured this was a new day, and I would do the best with it that I could. Without checking my email, without reading any of the news, I sat down and wrote the scene strongest in my mind.

It was like magic. It all came together. The character had a voice. Her antagonist was freaky. The setting was dark and spooky. What a great feeling.

After all my revisions this summer, I had forgotten how agonizing it is creating something out of nothing. But now, at least for today, I feel like can keep going. And tomorrow will be a brand new day.


  1. Glad you're finding your way with the new project! I think going from polishing and revising one project to starting another one from scratch is one of the hardest transitions. But the great thing about starting something new is that you get to play, so try to enjoy it! :-)

  2. I love when it all comes together like that. You're right, it's a great feeling—magic describes it perfectly. But then I fuss that it won't happen again. Writers are a worrying lot, aren't we?

  3. Thanks, Anna! I have to say, it is proving awfully hard for me. Glad to know I'm not alone in that! I am enjoying the play time, though a feeling a bit guilty over playing, too. Need to work on that. =)

    Hah, you're so right, Andrea! We ARE a worrying lot. Never willing to accept that things went right yesterday so they might go right again.

  4. "... I had forgotten how agonizing it is creating something out of nothing."

    Now you know what it feels like. (signed) God

  5. Now, now, Anne, you don't want to stroke my already sizable godlike delusions. =)

    Actually, as arrogant as it sounds, I do think we writers have a unique insight into how difficult creation must be. =)


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