What to do When Nervous Strikes

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Faces transform into other appearances and shapes.

They change from circles to ovals with a rectangular jaw.

One after the other—I feel like I watch a parade of constant change goes by.

I did watch a parade go by Saturday. By that afternoon, my gut turned green from changes in my schedule at work. I knew a few of the changes were coming, but Friday at 4; I was presented with more. A cast of nerves and thoughts paraded through my mind.

Diagnosed with OCD at seventeen, I have had to learn to adapt to change. Life leads us to spots in the road where we must make a U-turn or go another direction.

I was facing anxiety about Monday’s schedule on Friday after I had returned home from my second job and still heard third graders tattle telling in my ear.

If that was not enough for my nervous system, my husband and I attended a giant family get together of his father’s family. I had not met most of them. It has taken time for the concept of our marriage—since we are 32 years apart—to settle.

Before we left his father’s farm, John said, “Watch this.” John drove off the road into and over a small valley. He pulled up next to his teenage son who has ignored him as much as possible for two-and-a-half years. Although they had talked at the family gathering, John talked to him again.

“I did that to remind him no matter how he tries to ignore me that I’m there. I will always be there for my son.”

My heart beat three times faster. Nerves pushed me against the wall.

What happens when nervousness follows us to the keyboard or on paper?

When I’m angry, I scrawl poetry.

When I’m sad, I write more poetry.

When I feel and think a mixture of thoughts, I write a new short story.

But, most writers know when they deal with mad, sadness or even happiness.

We do not deal as well when our nervous system collapses on us in the middle of writing or editing.

First you must step out of your comfort zone. Whether it is taking a break from the computer screen or going outside to observe people; we need a break from our anxiety. Take a walk. Get a drink. Occupy on your mind on a small project separate from writing.

Second listen to music. Play classical, blues or jazz. Music unleashes a flurry of feeling needed for all five senses in our writing.

Do not be afraid to occupy your mind with dreams of the future. Dream of that chance you will become a successful author, poet, editor, journalist or writing professor. Dream that person is you and what you might do. Record your dreams. Yes, you are writing again, but you are writing those feel good words needed to encourage you.

What are you going to expect when we, as writers, face the skepticism and sometimes hard to hear critiques of others and ourselves?

We look at the dreams we recorded to remember why it is we write in the first place.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

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2 thoughts on “What to do When Nervous Strikes

  1. Elliot December 9, 2012 at 11:25 PM Reply

    I had not read this, when I did my post the other day, casually mentioning mild OCD. – yes it is all skills to learn. But you have a way to cope, and use it in the right way. You just need to remember it when the gloom strikes.

    • rtd14 December 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM Reply

      Exactly right!

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