Writing Anxiety


“Writing Anxiety” seems to me a fancy excuse for avoiding hard work. John Updike is quoted saying that despite his prolific writing, there was a moment every day in which he “didn’t want to climb the stairs” to his office to begin writing. I think of that every time I climb the stairs to my desk. And then when I get up there, I think I should definitely clean off the desk before I begin writing. And maybe pay a couple of bills and then vacuum the rug. And when that’s done, it seems like a good idea to take a walk to clear my head. And so on.

Anxiety and the avoidance it engenders gets in the way of living, of enjoyment and for me, of writing. It’s hard for an anxious person to enjoy the moment because who knows what dangers lurk? And it’s difficult for a writer to commit thoughts to the page because what if the result falls short? When I was in second grade, my family moved to a new house and I lost a library book and my teacher didn’t like me. I carried around what I called, “My Worries.” Every night before I went to sleep, I would think about My Worries and feel terrible. Yet I had named them, held them close, didn’t let them go.

Now anxiety, avoidance, guilt and worries are in my imagination wrapped up in one big hairy, toothy dermoid and can be removed easily. For some, that means surgery. For me, that means writing. And, for fun, here’s another solution:

“How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, “Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?” To which the man responded, “That’s your worry.” ― Max Lucado, quoted in Goodreads.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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