I’ve been taking time to observe my own work and lifestyle habits to improve productivity as an artist and entrepreneur, which led me to notice the pros and cons of my greatest blessing and curse: overthinking. Overanalyzing past events is my comfort zone to an obsessive point. I review my behavior and the behaviors of others in social settings, I’ll reevaluate my work schedule repeatedly (especially when random changes occur), and I can become far too immersed in hypothetical “what if’s” regarding past events believing that even though what I suspect could hypothetically happen didn’t happen at all, I should prepare for the likelihood that it does happen anyway. It’s strange that as a artist, my inspiration and work appear as bursts of energy which is a present consumption, but with almost everything else, I always need a plan and lacking a plan in anyway makes me feel incredibly lost.
The greatest pro of thinking like this is building resilience and maturity. I really value being introspective because it provides many opportunities to learn. However, the greatest con is rarely being in the present moment. This habit combined with intrusive thoughts and dissociation really isn’t fun; it’s time consuming self-torture on bad days. So, this week I practiced mindfulness techniques more frequently as an attempt to rewire my brain in a way. I get hit with intrusive thoughts on a daily basis, so addressing the truthfulness of those thoughts, as in understanding why the thought came up, how it makes me feel, and how practical it is to stew over the thought, is a struggle and conscious effort every damn time.
Redirecting my overthinking for more productive means is also a conscious effort and doing so keeps me in a present state of mind, which is a great pro. In the past, my overthinking would simply lead to spiraling and catastrophizing. Now my critical nature works more in my favor when self-care and dignity are kept in mind.
Just wanted to share this because I know I’m not alone in this. My fellow artists, autodidacts, nerds, and the like will perceive their analytical nature as a burden all too often and to be honest it really can become this powerful and reckless force disguised as meticulousness. Acknowledging how overanalyzing is a comfort zone we need to step out of helps change our self-perception into something more fulfilling without any radical change. If we naturally are critical and creative thinkers, then we can’t help that, but the least we can do is apply our great minds to tasks that help us embrace our potential. I’m just so tired of falling victim to the coulds/shoulds I’ve internalized. Let’s just be.
To be honest, I think it’s hilarious that I picked the most stressful November (for the Americans anyway) to give this challenge a go for the first time. My experience has been a juggle between caring for my mental health and simply enjoying the writing process. Distractions and interruptions have been abundant and when my mind gets too exhausted from pushing them away, all it wants to do is escape with a video game or book because my mind is too tired to plot a story. I’m having to be incredibly patient and constantly remind myself how important this is to me.
The progress I’ve made so far is significant. I won’t give up.
Comment below and tell me how your experience is going if you’re taking on the challenge and if you’re a fellow writer who isn’t writing a novel, do you have any tips to ward off stress during a writing session? I would love some pointers. (Yes, I’ve already tried take a break from or delete social media.)
Switching From Confidently Editing and Writing Anxiously
I have to be honest, I didn’t miss the anxiety that comes with wanting to make sure every word you write is significant. The ideas bursting inside of me while I was editing was really exhilarating. Now I’m back to layering the story down, brick by brick, word by word.
The first draft was easy for me. I heard something the other day while I was listening to writer podcast “The Writer’s Routine”, hosted by Dan Simpson, that writing the first draft, aka writing the vomit draft, can be easier than the second draft. The writer being interviewed said he always ends up being very perfectionistic about every word, not to mention he said he’s a lyrical writer so he definitely wants flow and artistry to be prominent in his storytelling (probably most writers want that, but some of us REALLY care about it…obsessively). Hearing that from American-noir writer (who happens to be British), Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at The End, was really comforting. I was thinking, “Yes, I totally understand that,” but then there’s the other voice inside of me, the voice striving to live a fulfilling life and often challenges my guilty pleasure with, “I know perfectionism tends to cripple me rather than heal me.” Very true. For the first draft, I let my perfectionism go, but now that I’m writing the second draft… I’m wondering if I need to bring back the ol’ harsh inner critic.
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily or mental and spiritual John Stuart Mill […]