First Draft Writing: Math Anxiety Say “Hi” to Writing Anxiety

entitledIt had been so long since I’d written something from nothing — that is, a first draft — that last week I got myself all balled up in knots about the prospect of writing an itty bitty piece of flash fiction. It felt like the math fear I used to have in high school. In fact, I just looked up “math fear” on Google — it’s apparently an actual thing. Who knew?

Here’s what Wikipedia says: Mathematical anxiety is anxiety about one’s ability to do mathematics independent of skill.

Last week I suffered from writing anxiety. A deadline for a 1,000 word piece of original writing got moved up by two weeks. Yikes! I started to freeze up in an exact mimic of my math fear of old. But, the thing is … I could feel the anxiety coming on, so I told myself to just have fun writing whatever crazy thing came to mind from gazing at the paintings that were my prompts. (See below for a description of the event I’m writing this piece for — it’s pretty cool.)

I’d spent so long in the land of revision that I could barely remember what it felt like to write a first draft, which, for me, is a right-brained activity — a lot of jumping in with faith in my creativity. (Revision is more left-brain analytical.)

If I jumped in with nonsense thoughts would my brain kick in with decent ideas?

I’m glad to say that it did … But not until after I’d procrastinated most of the weekend away, written one paragraph and then gnashed my teeth while brainstorming a coherent story–AND not until after I’d set that attempt aside. Apparently, I needed to rev the engine for a few days on a false start. Maybe my subconscious was working something out while I was farting around because yesterday — poof — I had a workable, likable (as in, I liked it) idea.

And I wrote my 1,000-word first draft without a hitch.

AND, it was great fun and I felt good and I realized that I’ve missed first draft writing. I’m relieved that my creative brain is still intact. Such a relief because I still have months of revision ahead of me for the second novel in my series. THEN, I’ll be able to get crackin’ on a first draft for the third book.

I can’t wait for that! I’ve got a solid line on the story for that novel, so far out there in the future.

Right now, though, I need to — yes — revise my 1, 000-word flash fiction piece.

Here’s the information on the event. And, if any of you are in the Portland area, come by!


In conjunction with the Entitled Group Art Show, this reading of original work by seven writers will be held on October 9th, starting at 6:00 pm at Glyph Cafe, 804 NW Couch, Portland.

What is Entitled? 25 artists picked titles at random from a hat and created 50 visual art pieces based on those titles. The exhibition runs through the month of October with the opening on October 2nd. For the reading, the seven writers picked three of the art pieces at random. Inspired by these images, each writer wrote an original short piece. The reading will be the first time any of these stories have been heard.

The writers:

J David Osborne
Barry Graham
Rios De la Luz
Lisa MoonCat Miller
Lisa Alber
Alex Bogartz
Johnny Shaw



One thought on “First Draft Writing: Math Anxiety Say “Hi” to Writing Anxiety

  1. I’m not sure why “mathematical anxiety” is a specific thing, as opposed to just general anxiety that happens to be centered around math, but I guess it’s like all the different types of phobias that people can have.

    I do have tremendous admiration for people who can spend a year, or many years writing a first draft, and then more years just editing, editing, editing. I think my temperament is much more suited to writing a weekly radio or TV show. I talked about that on my blog a while back:

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