It’s funny how much about myself I keep learning, even though this is stuff I’ve done for a long, long, long time. I have always enjoyed writing since I was a kid. But sharing what I wrote is another story. Over time I’ve gotten more comfortable submitting my fiction stories. Yes, rejections suck, but unlike the horror stories I have seen online, I don’t remember ever getting a ‘mean’ rejection. I’ve gotten feedback that hurt, but it was still delivered kindly, and when the sting wore off, I could see it wasn’t wrong. It was helpful.
Just a little bit ago I wrote about my day job and how I maneuvered into getting to do some writing as part of my job. I recently turned in a couple blog posts, and the amount of anxiety I had about them caught me off-guard. I started to see how much I avoided working on them. How I actually had them done, but kept fiddling, afraid to turn them in. Why? That’s what I’ve been grappling with ever since. I write a monthly newsletter for work and I don’t feel this way about that, but that’s just for my co-workers, and is mainly for fun and teambuilding and such. It isn’t that my supervisor is tough to please, she has loved everything I’ve given her. She is kind and supportive. So what is it?
Years ago when my kids were small I a hoped to earn extra money from home, I tried some online writing gigs. I wrote for a pet insurance website for a little while and had similar problems. It paid well. They always loved what I turned in, but I eventually stopped doing it because of how awful I made myself feel. I don’t want the same to happen to me now. I want to keep this extra gig I have going. So I need to figure myself out.
The best I have come up with so far that makes this type of writing different from my fiction or my newsletter, or even this blog, is that I consider it more serious. I’m writing about pet health. That’s important to me, and hopefully, to the people I’m writing for. I do find myself wondering as I write these things, “What if Someone misunderstands what I’m saying? What if I’m giving advice for X, but their pet has Y, and they don’t seek treatment properly?” and similar issues. There is a weight of responsibility that I take on that might not be fully appropriate. Sure, there are good things to consider, but not enough to let them stop me writing altogether.
For that matter, I give advice all day to clients when I’m working, or explain how to follow the doctors treatment plan, or home care instructions. I don’t bat an eye at these important talks. But then I know the specific patient, and their specific needs. An article is more general. It can’t take in all situations of all pets. Yet I feel like I have to.
There might be more to it than this, but this is where I am after some reflection so far. I think knowing my stumbling blocks will hopefully help my anxiety. Instead, of stalling or avoiding the writing, I can decide to review what I have written to make sure it’s clear, and I’ve mentioned important exceptions to look out for. That sort of thing. Deal with the items that are worrying me. It can only help the finished piece.
Other writers, do you ever find yourself anxious about your writing? And what have you done to work it though?