Anxiety is the Root of Laziness

Too often, when I think of doing something creative, my stomach tenses and my heart races. Without this physical sensation, as I learned from the Radiolab guys, I might not feel this too-familiar fear at all. (Thanks, body, for both permitting and discouraging my artistic attempts.)

Hearts race, stomachs tense, and anxiety sucks. However, knowing that this is the root of my laziness can help alleviate a few cycles of anxiety that start when I acknowledge my laziness. (Yes, Francis Bacon [or Thomas Hobbes?], knowledge is power, but it’s power that can be used by many parts of the mind and for many purposes, and not all of them are fruitful pursuits.) If I’m in an anxiety loop (anxiety–>laziness–>more anxiety) I might say:

“I don’t want to make something enough.”
“I must not be meant to do this.”
“Truly creative people are completely driven to make things; it pours out of them. If I have to fight lethargy to write something, isn’t that a sign I shouldn’t write at all?”

That last thought especially is riddled with false revelations. Just because so many writers and artists might describe a flow they enter when making something (“The words poured out of me,” “It’s as if someone else were painting it,” “I felt like a conduit”), doesn’t mean a feeling of anxiety isn’t present for them at other times. While I have also felt that flow a few times myself, maybe more importantly, why should flow¬†and a sense of ease have a monopoly on creativity?

If flow isn’t there, but fear is, grant me the Opus Contra Naturam (Work Against Nature) of the Renaissance¬†alchemists, and I will find another nature to work for.