The anguish of writing - the reflections of a dyslexic educator and academic
Published: March 3 2021
Written by: Anne Jackson
Writing, the act of expressing myself using words on a page, is one of the hardest things I ever do. It can trigger fear and anxiety.
Writing = stress.
Yet I enjoy the creativity of writing.
In order to manage something that used to result in a complete flight/freeze response I have learnt to play with it. I now start any writing task as early as possible from the deadline, I allow myself to focus in and wallow in the process. I view it as a creative habit I indulge in. Crafting a piece of writing now sits alongside the complex counted cross-stitch embroideries I complete. The colours, stitches, mix in a specific way at specific places on the material in order to produce a work that others can recognise, enjoy and occasionally, marvel at. With the help of the computer I write patches of ‘colour’ and ideas onto a page to create something others can also see.
It hasn’t always been so. My inabilities were a source of tears, procrastination and distress as I sought ways to make the ideas come out of my head. I viewed everything I wrote as negative and worthless. I once wrote a piece on the effect of red lines on my work as being like wounds on my child that I had created and grown. The level of anxiety was horrific and created distress for me and those around me.
The changes have come about by developing skills and harnessing the computer’s abilities. I used journal writing by hand and was able to write and spell as I needed and to not have it judged. Then through setting myself very tight time periods when I would force myself to sit at the computer and write even if I felt it was of no depth or relevant, I learnt to go with the flow. I also value the cathartic vomiting of everything onto a page, subsequent cutting and pasting works really well.
The anxiety has dissipated, but take away my computer and you will have the blubbering mess back again!