Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Stress versus Anxiety

So walking the dogs this morning, when I do some of my best thinking, I realized the difference between stress and anxiety in my writing life. Stress is what I feel now. I have multiple writing deadlines that are crushing down on me. This morning I’m proofreading my final paper for my poetic forms class on the canzone. I’m really quite pleased with it and think that I have everything well in hand for the presentation. Still the past four days of working on it have been stressful. In addition, I have a book review due and an encyclopedia entry due. I committed to both of those smaller projects long ago and am of course kicking myself that I didn’t complete them earlier. I should have, but I was engulfed then in anxiety, which is what I feel when the deadlines are crushing or even immediate, but rather are at some far off point in the future. The anxiety is the belief that I’ll never write again. The belief or the fear. The sense that words will not be forthcoming; the sense that ideas will never been new and exciting again. That’s writing anxiety. I don’t know what’s worse for me, the stress or the anxiety. The stress puts me into a mode of survival and just slogging through getting things done. I think that’s fine and particularly for school work necessary. The anxiety triggers existential crises. Why do I want to write? Does it matter if I write? Does it matter if I never write again. Neither stress nor anxiety are the best places to hang out in the world. There is the productive phase, though it seems to be the briefest of all phases between the anxiety and the stress. I just wish the productive phase of the program could be a wee bit longer and the stress and anxiety phases a whole lot shorter. If I had time, I’d ask myself why I signed up for this. I don’t have time, though, so I’ll just end there.


Ellen Moody said...

Dear Julie,

I was suffering so much from stress and anxiety that I cut down on the numbers of committments I would make. At this point I have just one. In a way it makes me feel lonelier and I have really to believe in myself more but I am more at peace.

Just a comment which also refers to some of your postings on Wompo.

Cheers to you,

Julie R. Enszer said...

Hi, Ellen,

Yes, this of course makes good sense. I find that in the midst of delivering on a variety of commitments, that is in the midst of experiencing the anxiety, I never commit to any additional project. What happens is that I feel the sense of euphoria when I deliver a variety of projects - and it is in the euphoric state that I say yes to additional commitments. It's interesting really. I fancy myself as more analytical than that, but in fact, I realize that I am subject to the changes and yes even whims of my emotions.

Right now I am working on a final seminar paper that I alternately love and hate and then hope to take a few weeks off and enjoy the stories of Munro and a few new biographies. Ah - I can almost taste it even though it is probably a week away!