I always have to have something to read, from the time I get up in the morning until just before I turn out the light at night. If I’m not reading, I’m writing. I have an almost pathological need to be doing those two things to the exclusion of all else. I’ve often wondered why I’m this way. The other day, I think I found at least a partial answer.
I like to keep my mind occupied, because if I don’t, I think about things that drive me crazy. I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, but I don’t think you have to be mentally ill to be debilitated by anxiety from time to time. At any rate, if I’m not reading or writing–in other words, if I’m not directing what I’m thinking about–my mind goes wild. Thoughts of what could go wrong in any area of life–health, finances, family, marriage, nationwide and worldwide events–come close to paralyzing me. My mind is so overcome by fears that I can’t think of anything else, let alone of creative writing ideas.
I think I need to learn to trust my mind. To believe that I can handle whatever fears and anxieties come my way. Unless I learn how to do that, I will never be able to move beyond those actions and thoughts that make me feel secure. What complicates matters for me as a writer is that I am always anxious about my writing as well. I start things and then don’t finish them because my anxieties prevent me from doing so. I’m not just afraid that I can’t finish, I’m also afraid that the finished product will be crap, and that that will be the best I can do. I’m afraid of being found out to be talentless. Of having to face that reality about myself as a writer.
Better that I not finish and leave my potential as unknown and unverifiable. Then I can at least fool myself into thinking that I do have talent–as long as I don’t let myself think deeply about it. Better to keep busy with reading, journal-writing and blogging than to set out in uncharted waters. The saying goes that it is better to be safe than sorry, but that’s assuming that you will always be sorry if you let go of what is safe. I need to convince myself that there is greater joy in challenging myself than in protecting what I already know to be true. Fear keeps me from exploring the world, even the world of my own mind. I need to reject that fear and let myself go.