I don’t remember where I read about this, but it’s a brilliant idea. It’s saved me lot of worry, several anxiety pills, and probably an ulcer.
All writers seem to have a pervasive sense of overwhelming, ill-defined anxiety. At times it verges on panic and even despair. We’re universally puzzled as to why we’re doing this. We often say because it makes us happy. And it does. It keeps us sane and gives us moments of elation and joy. But those are only moments. The rest of the time, we’re worried.
We worry that we can’t write a book. We worry that we can’t finish it. We worry that we’ve done a horrible job. We’re worried we won’t ever get published. When we’re published we worry that our books won’t sell, that we’ll get horrible reviews, that the world will discover what shams we are. Then we worry that we’ll never be able to write another book. After that, the wonderful merry-go-round starts again!
I found a great help for all of this! The Worry List. I typed up a list of everything I was worried about. I included deadlines and sales, forgetting blogs, but also, since my first list was in the fall, Christmas presents and birthday presents. (Our family, me included, tends to have children during the fall and during winter holidays.) I also added some personal health, family, and money-related things. They totaled to 21.
Then, with all my worries solidified, defined, and recorded, I closed the file and went about my way, worrying only about the specific project I was working on at the time. Whenever I began to feel anxious, I would open the file and there would be all my worries, still safe and sound.
Some people advocate setting aside a regular period of time to spend worrying about the list items, but I found I only needed to check on them and give them a moment, as needed.
Two months after I made the list, I went over each item and discovered that I could remove 3 of them. Just lately, I removed 5 more. They are still “things” but they are things that I’m not going to worry about anymore (except the birthday and Christmas gifts—those will be added back). There are still 13 items on the list, so it is alive and well. I imagine I’ll add to it someday, but haven’t had to yet.
Why does looking at my Worry List make me feel secure? Doesn’t everyone know that writers are different? What can I say?