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Furthermore, a little anxiety can motivate you to dig deep and bring out the best in your work.
“By writing freely” Keyes explains, “you’re essentially saying, I’ll ignore my anxiety about getting it right and write anyway, on a provisional basis.” As modest as this goal seems, it can help you take the most critical step: getting started.
In my own practice, I often end up trashing two-thirds of the few pages I pour out in a twenty-minute free writing session. I almost always, however, find one or two “keepers” in those pages—new ideas or ways of articulating a point that make their way into my actual manuscript.
Sure, you could figure out how to use the filter on your own, but taking the time to read the manual sure is helpful. But now, in the modern ages, anxiety is holding you back.
It gives you new ways to think about it, and it can help others in the process. As humans evolved over time, learning to overcome great odds, mastering their environments, and now attaining elite status as social media experts and appendages to smart phones, anxiety evolve with them. Anxiety was helpful when it alerted humans to the dangers of wild beast and unruly individuals.
It is preventing you from doing the things you want to do.
Paradoxically, writing about it can unleash your potential and connect you to humanity. When you put your fears to paper, you get some space from them.
The first step toward lessening the power of fear to stall your writing is realizing that there’s nothing wrong or irrational about fears related to academic authorship.
Your professional training has equipped you to be a terrific critical thinker and rigorous reviewer of scholarship.
In other words, you can relax a little, knowing the draft you’re working on doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to show you the way to the next, better draft.
Sometimes the drive to focus on articulating your reasoning actually constricts your ability to generate and refine ideas.