By Agi Heale
Writers can face a barrage of anxiety… it is everywhere. Why do I stare at my blank screen for hours on end? Is my content going to be engaging enough? Is anyone even going to buy a copy of the book?
There is so much anxiety that surrounds the whole process of being a writer. Many questions float up to haunt us and procrastination often settles in. I wanted to share my top five tips, which helped me to write Generation Panic – now a real, published, tangible book! These were (and continue to be) five of my ‘go-to’s’ whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed in life and, in particular, my writing.
- Energy Flick
When I start to feel anxious, it’s as though a current of electricity runs through my body and I almost feel ‘whizzy’. My shoulders tighten, everything clenches up and it can feel all-consuming. In that very moment, I need to get rid of that nervous energy. So, give this a try: stand up tall and flick out your hands to your side. As you do so, imagine that the nervous energy is flicking out of your fingertips and away from you. Next, run your hands down your arms, creating friction, to get rid of the energy through your fingertips. Finally, jiggle your whole body – shaking the anxiety out of your system. Then, move on to the next tip of breathing…
We forget that our breath is (unsurprisingly) with us at any given moment. We can get so caught up in a moment that we forget to breathe, or we breathe very high up in our chest, all tight and sprung up. There’s tons of research around deep belly breathing and its benefits. So, in a stressful and anxious moment, remember to take a few deep, proper breaths. Start by breathing in for a count of three, holding for three and then breathing out for three. If you’re struggling with your writing in some way, breathe, calm yourself, reset and then go back to it again when you are calmer and more composed. As you get better at breathing, try to increase the three-three-three to four-four-four, right the way up to seven-seven-seven (seven in, seven hold, seven out). Breathing is the most powerful tool to help your heart rate to slow and to calm your body down. You just need to remember to do it, so pop a sticky note up somewhere you will see it.
- Take Each Moment As It Comes
I found I was often overwhelmed by my to-do list: there were endorsements I needed to get, illustrations to be completed, different people to contact, publicity to drum up; the list goes on. It can spiral quite quickly into panic and make it impossible to complete very simple tasks. The obsession with the future and worrying about all that is coming can completely ruin the moment. Try and bring it back to this moment. How can you make just the next five minutes happier? Question: what would happen if I just enjoyed this right now (yes, even total word block)? Or perhaps ask yourself: What do I need to get through the next hour? By bringing it back to these simple questions, and into this very moment, you can turn that moment of panic into something a little happier.
- Think About The Bigger Picture
I remember feeling overwhelmed thinking about the writing process and trying to please everyone. I needed to remember why I even wanted to write the book in the first place. As soon as I clarified the bigger purpose, writing became easier and I felt calmer. For me, the reason I wrote Generation Panic was because I was struggling with anxiety and couldn’t find what I needed to feel good again: essentially a range of tools in one place to combat anxiety. Every time I remembered that reason and my mission to help people feel, quite simply, happier and calmer, my writing flowed more easily. It took out a lot of the noise and made things simple and clear. I urge you to connect to the bigger purpose: it will stop you from being caught up in the minutiae. Question: Why are you writing this? Why is it important? Connect to that.
- Support Network
The biggest thing I’ve learnt from writing Generation Panic is that everyone experiences anxiety on some level. I repeat, every single author or writer you come across (regardless of how well put together they are) will be fighting, or has fought, a battle you may well not see. Start with opening up and leaning on your support network. There’s no need to feel alone. I guarantee others close to you will be able to relate in some way. So, right now, I want you to message at least one person you know you can rely on. On top of finding people to support you, you yourself can help with accountability and bouncing ideas around. You’re not on your own!
You can tackle your anxiety by trying out these five easy and simple tips so that it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and debilitating. Be kind to yourself. I have no doubt that you are a brilliant writer and that the writing in you is ready to come out. Good luck, you can do it!
If you want to find out more about Generation Panic, which is jam-packed with over 100 tools and techniques just like these to combat anxiety, check out generationpanic.com, available to order on Amazon, Waterstones, Kindle, Audible, etc. Likewise, it would be great to hear from you and find out what you do to help yourself when you’re feeling anxious, so do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agi Heale is an experienced Certified Professional Coach and Founder of Westbourne Associates. She has coaching practices in London and Singapore, where she runs coaching programs and workshops to help clients who are feeling overwhelmed to feel calm and confident. Agi has suffered from anxiety on and off throughout her life and had a bout of panic attacks in 2014. Using this book’s simple techniques, she learnt how to manage her anxiety and has not had a panic attack since that time. Agi now lives in Singapore and spends her ‘free time’ with her husband chasing after her young children in the Lion City.
Every single author or writer you come across (regardless of how well put together they are) will be fighting, or has fought, a battle you may well not see.