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Saturday, March 1, 2014

More Anxiety

I figured out how to do a keyboard shortcut for a footnote in MSW. I also changed to formatting for the footnotes so that it would be the way I want it, with the right font. This turned out to be very calming for me. Now I can simply hold down the keys I have designated and there is a magic footnote, already indented, in Baskerville, my font of choice nowadays, and I am ready to go.

I only save a few seconds per footnote, versus going to the insert menu, scrolling down, and clicking on footnote. But it seemed mentally taxing to scan the menus with my eyes, remember that footnotes are under "insert," and then scan down with my eyes until I find "footnote." I would feel the anxiety surging in me whenever I had to do that. Then I would have to reformat each footnote the way I wanted it. Of course, I could have done all that at the very end, but I like things the way I like them from the beginning.


So the lesson here is to listen to your own anxiety as you write. All the problems we have writing stem from negative feelings, inadequacy, anxiety and fear, frustration, boredom, etc...Suppose you have feelings while you are composing that "I wonder what Christopher Maurer would think of this?" Or "This is not going be accepted by the Cultural Studies Crowd," or "I have been working on the same thing for 20 years and my ideas are not that new." "It's been five years since I published a book, maybe there will be no such thing as a university press book by the time I finish this one." Those are all legitimate concerns. They are very real possibilities! I have such ideas literally dozens of times each time I sit down to write. I imagine people less self-confident than I am have even more doubts. You don't even have to refute them in your mind, or call them irrational. That's because they really are not irrational in the least. Maurer and Labanyi could decide they doesn't like this book as much as they did my first Lorca book. The problem comes when those kind of doubts shut down production, or make it needlessly painful. What I've learned from mindfulness meditation (the little I've done) is to recognize those thoughts, give them a label, and move on. So when I get that little adrenile surge with the footnote, I say, "Oh, that's my little Microsoft Word phobia." The beauty is you don't even have to cure this phobia. You might always have it.


Anonymous said...

Oh wait, yes, of course I have anxiety. It is caused by trying to go too fast, or thinking I should go faster than I am.

I already think fast enough so the way to get anything actually done is to slow down. But we are constantly told to go faster, limit amount of time spent, set alarm clocks. For me, there is no better way to make me too nervous to start. "I will do what I can do, thinking fast enough to be efficient, but not so fast as to make mistakes, in an hour" is really different from "I must accomplish X amount in the next hour."

Anonymous said...

Asturias, El seƱor presidente, the book of anxiety. I think.