Dealing with Writing Anxiety

Ask any creative and they’ll tell you about the anxiety that goes with projects. Imposter syndrome can wreck havoc on the creative process and make you feel blocked.

My cat, Shadow Moon, on my desk, causing me anxiety.

With writing anxiety you have two choices. One: work through it. Or two: walk away. Yesterday I walked away.

I would usually say that you should write through it. Just persevere, but in this case I needed an out.

I was antsy. Panicky. My cat wouldn’t leave me alone and I needed to get words down. Sometimes you have to give in, and that’s ok. The book will be there when you get back.

Today, I found my words. The well was full. Other days I struggle, but what I don’t do is give up.

Writing is a bunch of ups and downs. It’s a struggle. You can’t wait for your muse to get off their ass but you shouldn’t push yourself until you’re burnt out. It’s a balancing act.

Write what you can and the words add up. Pretty soon you’ll have a book then a series. Ultimately you’ll be sipping cocktails in Hawaii in your vacation home… Or at least coffee at a Starbucks. It’s the little things.

A Publishing Journey

I never thought I’d get to this point the same way I thought I couldn’t do graduate school. Yet, here I am with an agent and a three book publishing contract.

Image: woman trying to climb stairs

My publishing journey started with a back injury and a hopeless search to find something to read. I decided to write what I wanted to read. From there, the poisonous passions series was born.

All I could do was sit. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t stand for more than a couple minutes. I’d given up the archives job search from after graduate school and I had to flee into my own world. I almost lost my ability to walk.

I had back surgery which gave me immediate relief. No more pain killers and no more sitting for long periods of time. It takes me 3 months to write a book now instead of 6 weeks but the pain is manageable.

I started to query my first book and when I hit my fourth book I started to query it too. My fourth book got me my agent. My first book got me my publishing contract.

I injured my back in 2017, but I signed with my agent in 2020. Yesterday, I signed my publishing contract. Next year, I will have 3 published books.

As much heart ache and pain I experienced in those 4 years (back injury, divorce, more hearing loss, and the death of my mother), I’m amazed I’m still standing.

Roll with the punches and fight your way to your goals. It’s tough out there.

Generating Book Ideas

For the first time in years, I don’t have any book ideas. I’m not worried about it. In fact, I’m using my break to write short stories to submit to anthologies.

Image: silhouette of young girl holding a sparkler

I don’t like the feeling of being stuck, but I’m taking this as a sign I need to get out and experience life.

There are two things you can do that I’ve found help get your creativity going. One is read. Switch up what you are reading. Try something new.

Two is to go out and live. I had a book idea one day when I was walking my dog. I saw writing in the pavement that said Dorothy. I knew I had to write something based on the Wizard of Oz. I’m proud of t.hat book. It’s out on submission. It’s all thanks to that one aha! moment.

I’m searching for that aha! moment now. I have direction. I just need that one little spark. It will come when I least suspect it, and I’ll be having fun while it happens.

Surviving Rejection

It was the best day of my life. I was in line to meet one of my heroes, messing with my phone. I got an email saying an agent was interested in my book but wanted me to edit and resubmit.

I was on top of the world. That feeling of lightness where nothing can bring you down.

I put my heart into my manuscript. Three months and two drafts later, I sent my manuscript back to the agent.

It wasn’t enough.

I was crushed. I came down from that high and slammed into the floor, bursting into millions of pieces.

I was ready to give up.

What kept me going? Nothing. I stopped. I had a lapse in writing and editing.

Then it occurred to me that if this agent liked my idea but my edits weren’t enough, some agent would want the new version I was proud of.

So I queried again. I did pitch parties on Twitter. I checked MSWL almost daily. I started querying agents that I never thought of querying.

By this time, I had a second book to query, really my 4th (the first 3 are a series). I was querying 2 books and getting rejections daily.

My 4th book was a book I wrote for therapy. I poured myself into it. I let all the hurt, rejection, and loss from my life take over.

Still, I was focused on my first book. I was up to dozens of rejections. This time, I wouldn’t let it go.

My 4th book was on the first round of queries. I had sent out a dozen. I got a partial request. I sent it and pushed it out of my mind.

About a month later, the partial became a full. Ok, it was my first and only full request on book 4, but I was used to giving fulls with my other book. I didn’t let it get my hopes up though there is always that little spark of hope.

It was November, election day. I woke up as usual, picked up my phone, and checked my email.

The agent who had my full wanted a call to discuss representation. I didn’t freak out as I thought I would. I calmly wrote back. It took days for it to sink in.

I notified the other agents I queried and got two more full requests, but I decided to go with that first agent. My agent, Julie Gwinn, is awesome.

I think about what my dad once said to me, “You’re happier when you’re writing.” So I kept writing and I improved.

That first book is rough. That first chapter is worse. You can polish it off forever, but you can also exercise your brain by writing more and coming back to that first book later. That’s what worked for me.

Part of being a creative is dealing with rejection. You have to value your work and know someone else will value it too,but you can’t succeed if you stand in place. Write.


Perseverance. It’s been my mantra for the last three years.

How did I write 5 books? I didn’t give up. I sat down and did the work, and I repeated until I had achieved my goal.

Everything about being an author is founded on perseverance. From writing to landing an agent to publishing.

Day after day you have to put one foot in front of the other because you can achieve your dreams.

When things feel bleak and you’ve lost hope, what depends on success is whether you keep going anyway.

Even the most successful authors have doubts. It’s part of the job, but you can turn it around if you just keep going.

The first draft is going to be terrible, but that’s OK. You can fix it later. Nobody will see it until you want them to, but nobody will read your story unless you get it out there when it’s polished.