Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Anxiety Disorders and the Query Process

For those not in the know, anxiety is a blanket term that covers everything from phobias to generalized anxiety, so a lot of people suffer from it. Not nearly enough get treated for it*. Anyone who suffers from general anxiety knows that functioning on certain days is difficult enough, but if you get a panic attack?

You might as well pack it in for the day and take a nap.

It's known that stress triggers anxiety, and what is more stressful than querying**? You're waiting to hear if your manuscript is good enough for Agent A, Agent B, and Agent C. You're creative life is on the line. All your friends have gotten requests and deals and everything and--

You get the picture. Just writing that scenario made my heart spasm. Everything you do is under the srutiny of you. Is it good enough? Are you good enough? No one is going to take you on. Everyone is going to hate it. Your crit group was just being nice. If you get an email back, the heart spams start anew: is this good news or bad? What happens if they want to see more? That's the thing about us chronically anxious people--we're worriers.

So how can you handle the query procress without going into full-blown panic mode?  I can't speak for everyone, but I can talk from personal experience.
  • Have a cheerleader. As a chronic worrier and pessimist, having someone who sees things the other way is hugely important. So important, in fact, I have two.
  • Do some cardio. Aerobic exercise helps reduce anxiety because of the endorphins your brain produces during exercise. Just like the runner's high makes you happy, it kills the stress.
  • Meditate and have a mantra. Tell yourself "this too shall pass" and go someplace quiet. The less distraction in an area is best to clear out your mind. Sit quietly and breathe it all in. Relaxation is crucial.

These are just a few ways to handle querying on anxiety. What tricks do you have to keep the anxiety at bay?

* Like yours truly who pretty much dislikes all types of doctors.
** I know, there are lots of things more stressful, like unemployment, ailing family members, etc, but bear with me. I'm trying to make a point.
Last.fm Hit of the Day: Seesaw Sway by Peter Murphy


  1. The other nice bit about the runner's high, its lead to some of my best written breakthroughs. Something about internally writing over and over makes a scene perfect when I sit down to type it up.

  2. I hear you on the anxiety. I don't have an anxiety disorder, per se, but I do have symptoms of it (this sounds very vague for a reason... I'll just leave it at that, lol). So yeah, panic attacks and worries! No fun! Having a regular exercise schedule has helped me so much. For me, not only do I get those lovely endorphins, but when I exercise I cannot think constructively about anything. My mind is going, but I don't retain anything from that session. So it's like a small break for my mind during the day. If I go more than a few days without it, I end up so mentally tired because my brain hasn't had time to shut off.
    So! My brother just told me to read the book WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion. Basically, a Romeo and Juliet story with zombies. Have you read it?

  3. I so hear you. The highs are high and the lows are LOW when querying. Hang in there. We're all rooting for you!

  4. Exercise is a huge help. More writing. Also fun music, a chick flick and ice cream help me deal with anxiety.

  5. I love to "run it off", but recently switched to walking which doesn't help so much. Dancing works good, though. :) Good luck with your querying!

  6. Hang in there, Alicia! I totally feel your pain. I'm anxious about EVERYTHING, and I swear, querying just about killed me. Great tips for dealing with the stress. Fingers crossed for you, and hoping for a GOOD NEWS post very soon!


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