“I have now, and have had since this afternoon, a great yearning to write all my anxiety entirely out of me, write it into the depths of the paper just as it comes out of the depths of me, or write it down in such a way that I could draw what I had written into me completely.”
— Franz Kafka
Whenever something is bothering me, and I am overcome with running thoughts, the best way to relieve that anxiety is to write my thoughts down. Afterwards, I almost always feel better and the running thoughts subside. Simply writing about my fears and worries helps in easing them. Why is that?
Perfectionism is a gift and a curse. Before publishing a work of fiction, I spend an inordinate amount of time rewriting and editing it, long after most writers would consider it “done” and publishable. I re-read the manuscript again and again, going over every sentence, every word and punctuation mark, making sure it is precisely as I wish.
I’ve always been weird. As a child, my earliest memories from school were how I was always so much different than everyone else—not just personality-wise, being extremely shy compared to them, but also in my interests. The other kids weren’t into the things I wanted to do and talk about which was probably why I didn’t like talking to them. But the weird thing is I didn’t like being weird as a kid. I had such severe social anxiety that I wanted to fit in and be like everybody else. I was terrified of being ostracized and rejected by my peers. I didn’t want to stand out, so I would hide my weird interests from them.
Have you ever noticed that most artists tend to get less creative when they get older? A band’s first album is often their best—or maybe their second or third album is better—but rarely does a band record their most creative music on their twelfth album. Sure, some artists like The Rolling Stones continue to perform well into their 70s, but they are only rehashing the creativity of their 20s and 30s. They are not recording new songs, or if they are, those new songs are nowhere near as beloved or creative as their earlier work. That is the normal life cycle of most musical artists: they release creative music when young, get popular, then “play the hits” for the rest of their career.
What is a better form of communication: talking or writing? For me, talking is inferior and inefficient compared to writing. Writing gives you time to pause, reflect, consider, and then express exactly what you feel. Some may say that talking to someone face to face is the only way to really know another person fully—to get a sense of their true self. While that may be true for some people, that is not the case for me.
Throughout my life, I get super-interested in certain topics and go all-in, becoming completely absorbed in the subject for weeks, months, or sometimes years. Eventually, when I’ve learned everything worth knowing, I become bored of the subject and move on to something else, becoming super-interested in that new topic… until I’m not. Then the cycle repeats again.
Most of my toughest problems writing fiction come from hitting a wall midway through the first draft when I realize I must alter the narrative in some dramatic way, requiring massive rewrites of what I’d written so far. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it is demoralizing—especially for longer projects like novels. I dread going back to do that rewriting work because it is difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Fixing what I wrote before often takes longer than it took to write in the first place.
I crave novelty. In music, movies, books, podcasts, articles, and documentaries, I want something completely new that I’ve never experienced before. New stories. New sounds. New information. New knowledge. Novel everything.
The most valuable ability of humans—what separates us from other species—is our ability to predict the future. To anticipate the repercussions of our actions. To imagine potential consequences. To plan for the future. Prediction is what makes humans more intelligent and thereby more successful at survival than other animals. Likewise those humans who are best at prediction are more successful in life than their fellow humans.