Performance Anxiety

Posted 20 June, 2009 by DLWhite in Writers Write 9 Comments

So, yesterday was a pretty easy day, at work. And when the day is easy, I try to pull out something I’m working on and give it a go, despite the fact that I can’t really write at work, due to the distractions. It was quiet, though,and the boss was gone and the atmosphere was perfect. PERFECT, I say.

Except….it wasn’t. It was quiet, for sure. My thoughts were rolling around in my head, and I was reading and editing and then I wanted to explore a tangent and started to type and all I could hear was KLUNK KLUNK KLUNKETY KLUNK KLUNK KLUNK. My keyboard is SO LOUD. And I type fast. And a lot (I’m quite verbose, once I get going) and so all I could think was someone coming up behind me going, ‘what are you working on?’  I always feel guilty if I have to close out what I’m doing when my boss comes out of his office. That is a sign that I shouldn’t be doing whatever I’m doing. For sure, I couldn’t look up at them and say, “well, it’s another installment of my fanfiction series, it’s a romance and my main character is meeting his love interest’s family for the first time, and it’s really awkward because……….” Yeah, so no. I didn’t want to get caught.

So I had to close the page and pretend to work, which is harder than actual working. And, of course, because I couldn’t write, I had all these ideas of things I wanted to bring out, some I wanted to tone down, conversations I wanted them to have. Need to punch up the emotion here, add more descriptive terms there…. but I COULDN’T.

It was like having to ……. use the facilites but you CAN’T. Have to hold it in, until you get home. Drove. me. Mad.

So, I left early. I wasn’t working anyway and it was Friday and no one cared. I checked out and went straight home and went straight to the laptop, ripped Word open and aaaaahhhhhhhhh. Relief.

After a couple of breaks, actually got to a point where the bare bones of the chapter is complete! \o/ I usually just spit out what I can and go back and edit. Someone, I think Stephen King in On Writing maybe (???), said “anyone can write. The magic is in the editing.” For me, that’s true. I can spit out some of the world’s most droll, boring stuff. I’m kind of amazed at myself when I read the finished product. It’s nothing like my rough draft.

Maybe the magic for me was knowing what I want to do and not being able to actually physically be able to do it. It made me long for it, wish I could, imagine myself doing it, until I just wanted to scream, and when I finally could, it was like a dam burst. Sweet. Perhaps the next time I really want to write, I should deny myself until it drives me out of my mind!

So, today is working through the rough draft. I’ve already edited the hizzy out of the first part of it, so I hope I don’t want to make too many more changes. And then it’s time to send it off to critique, more editing, more critiquing, and then archive that puppy and move on to something else.

On with the day!

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9 Responses to “Performance Anxiety”

  1. So true! Anyone can write, but you do have to go back and edit and add, and make it real. I do that. Just write what is in my head and then go back and edit.

    Off to do that now.

    • MissM

      *nods* That’s where the magic is! Thanks for commenting, and I got your friend request on Goodreads! \o/ That site is such a guilty pleasure.

  2. What sort of editing do you find yourself doing (aside from corrections)? Just changing up or adding words and phrases? Or do you get a skeleton on paper and and the meat to it?

    • MissM

      Yep, that’s exactly it. I get a skeleton of the story, chapter, whatever down on paper. It’s easier for me to delete/change/move than it is for me to invent the original draft, so I just get it down on (proverbial) paper.

      Then I take a break. Eat a sandwich. Watch a show. Read a book. Play with my blog.

      Then once I’ve sort of removed myself from the material, I read through and add the meat–action, emotion, description, conflict. Try to read it from my reader’s perspective and guage their reaction to this or that and ‘fix it’ if I think the reaction won’t be what I’m going for.

      Even with blogging, days later I’ll read something I wrote and think ‘man I should have phrased that differently, and I could have added X, or moved that paragraph, it might have sounded better.

      I’ve determined I like the sound of my own voice, so to speak. I read myself a lot lot. Lol. Mostly just to make sure I don’t sound like an ass.

  3. I run into this same problem at work also, especially when things are slow, like they are now. You might want to check out Evernote- that’s what has kept me sane lately. I can quickly jot down all my notes and ideas in rough form in Evernote on my desktop, then it syncs online and with your home computer version of Evernote. It helps me preserve the idea that I have at an inconvenient moment for reminders later when I do actually have time to work on it. You can also download it for your BB!
    /not an Evernote commercial, promise.
    OTOH, your blog looks fantastic! First visit of many to come.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Zebra Stripes =-.

    • Thanks for commenting! I love the Commentluv plugin on your blog so I incorporated it into mine. I’m going to look up EverNote– i could use it. I carry a pad and pen around, but.. I just haven’t picked up the art of actually writing things down.

  4. Meg

    Oh, I can so relate to what you’re doing through! :) I have my own office and, in between projects, often find myself — um — contemplating typing up just a few scenes. But because I also type fast, I’m often asked by passersby what I’m working on so feverishly! I guess this should be a good lesson in just closing the door? :)

    Good luck as you continue to edit! The magic is in the editing, that’s for sure. But it can be a serious headache.

    • Yah I don’t even have an office, so even worse! Like today, my boss is gone. I’m his EA so if he’s gone, I kind of don’t have a lot to do. I could totally pump something out (maybe) but it’s so. quiet. in here!