Worry Wart

When you're a writer, your head is where you live, and if your head is in a distracted, uncomfortable, or painful place, that's all you've got."  ~Dani Shapiro

The other day someone told me that I "live in my head," an assessment that was not meant to be totally complimentary. I'd never considered myself a terribly cerebral person, but I began to reconsider after hearing that comment.  I realized there was definitely truth in those words, and, most importantly, I realized that the living going on in my head was not always healthy.

I worry a lot, and most of that worrying takes place inside my mind where I can stir and agitate and magnify my anxieties into something odious and even dangerous.  Because all this worrying tends to interfere with my ability to move forward with life in general, and sometimes stops my writing dead in its tracks.

We all have worries - bills pile up on the counter, family members get sick and need attention, our jobs make impossible demands on our time and energy, relationships founder.  It's vital to develop healthy coping strategies.  While some people will turn to junk food and alcohol, others find refuge in exercise or needlework, or music.

Use writing as one of those healthy coping strategies for your worries.  Writing about your fears often helps you make sense of them, plus it infuses your writing with a sense of reality and intensity.  Create a fictional character who faces your deepest worry head on and help that character come to terms with it.  Make a list in your journal of everything  you're worried about - then turn the page and make a list of every possible good thing which could dispel those fears.  Research something you're worried about - the environment, the effects of depression, problems which develop in childhood - and write about your research.

You might be surprised to find you've written your worries away.