Freshly Pressed Performance Anxiety

January 31, 2013 — 33 Comments

I sat there, fingers poised over the keyboard and nudged my brain, “C’mon. Let’s go.”

Go where?” my brain asked sleepily.

We need to write another blog post,” I told it.

You do it,” my brain said. “I’m tapped.”

What do you mean tapped?” I asked.

Dude, I totally blew my wad on those last two posts,” it said. “Does the term refractory period mean nothing to you?”

What?” I cried. “Are you kidding? I can’t do this alone!”

Maybe if you made me a sandwich …” my brain offered, it’s voice trailing off.

No!” I said. “No sandwiches! We need to write. Both of us. Together!”

But it was no use. My brain was lying there, limp and flaccid, snoring softly.

I started to panic. I willed myself to come up with something for a new post and drew only blanks, or ideas I 0013 Performance Anxietyimmediately dismissed as not good enough. I thought of the new followers I’d gained and the comments I’d received … people congratulating me on being Freshly Pressed, saying how what I’d written had made them laugh and that they looked forward to reading more.

What if what I wrote next wasn’t funny enough? Would they think my Freshly Pressed post had been a fluke? Was I someone who came back after a months-long hiatus and just got lucky? I’ve never been a consistent blogger. My writing is as bipolar as I am and ideas come to me in fits and starts. Sometimes I’ll go on a tear, creativity swirling, thoughts bubbling, words flowing with ease – I’m in the zone. And then there are times when I dry up or something happens in my life, like when I had a cancer scare back in November, and it gets in the way of my writing.

I’m fine, by the way … nothing to worry your pretty little heads about. In the end, it was fairly minor as far as cancers go, just not something I wanted to write about because cancer is kind of a buzzkill. I tried to write about other stuff, but every time I thought I had a good idea my brain would go, “Hey! Don’t forget to mention you might have cancer,” or “That’s funny! I bet you could make it even funnier if you weren’t so worried about having cancer.” I tried employing the parenting tool called Distract & Redirect which says you can get a child to stop engaging in unacceptable behavior by first distracting him and then redirecting his attention toward something more positive. My brain’s response to this, however, was usually along the lines of, “Stop distracting me! I might forget to remind you that you could have cancer!” It was a losing battle.

What I’m feeling now isn’t entirely new to me. Amongst the people that I know and with whom I’m comfortable, I feel relaxed and can be quite witty. However, I am by no means one who is terribly at ease in social settings, the butterfly who flits from group to group, pollinating them with my sparkling repartee. Thrust me into a room full of strangers and I will seize like an old transmission on a steep hill. I need time to hang back, assess the situation and warm up. This does not, however, stop people – people who profess to love and care for me – from dragging me up to a group of folks I’ve never met and saying, “This is Lesbiana. You’ll love her, she’s hysterical!

I know they mean well and I know they’re being complimentary, but what they fail to realize is that when these nice, new people turn to me and in their eyes I see the expectation that I will be funny, my brain goes into a state of humor-dormancy where it will usually stay for the remainder of the evening. I don’t do jokes, I can’t be funny on command and I choke under pressure.

I admire people who blog with regularity, those who have something interesting to share every few days. I find it hard to write unless I’m inspired and difficult to feel inspired when I’m having a nervous breakdown. It makes me think of the Zen riddle, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The sound is this — one hand, my desire to write, hanging silently in the air while my other hand, the hand of inspiration, remains tied behind my back by my Freshly Pressed performance anxiety. And what it looks like is me hyperventilating into a paper bag as I stare at a blank screen, unable to write because I’ve just been introduced to a bunch of nice, new bloggy people who may be expecting certain things of me, and that has resulted in my brain going into a deep hibernation.

I’m sure I’m not the first Freshly Pressed blogger this has happened to. At least, I hope not … how embarrassing would that be? Probably not the best thing to be thinking about under the current circumstances, is it? Anyway, all I ask is that you please bear with me — I’m taking deep breaths, trying to relax and talking to myself in hushed, soothing tones. I know I’ll get through this and my brain will once again be able to sustain the raging blogger-boner you’ve come to know and love. But at the moment, I feel like I’m the recipient of my own rousing one-handed standing ovation and I just need a little time to compose myself.

33 responses to Freshly Pressed Performance Anxiety

  1. 

    Ah yes, performance anxiety, not helped when mania abandons you, and the brain wants a sandwich. We all understand performance anxiety. If we haven’t experienced it yet, we will.
    The thing about followers is that they found you via Freshly Pressed, they follow you because they like you.

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  2. 

    I understand the performance anxiety/writer’s block thing. I read that limp and flaccid line, and now I can’t even come up with a pithy comment. You can tell me to pith off, but try putting posts in a Word file as you create them. That way, when you need one but have no inspiration, just defrost one and put it in the WordPress oven.

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    • 

      An excellent suggestion … I’ve actually taken to carrying a little notebook to jot down thoughts when (or if) they come to me. Now I just need to figure out a way to decipher my handwriting and remember what my cryptic notes mean …

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  3. 

    Next time, just make a sandwich. Even brains need bribery. And it’s easier than having a nervous breakdown.

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  4. 

    Mariko, is that you?

    Just kidding….Your writing and presentation is so eerily similar to my daughter’s that I feel like a mommy voyeur stumbling upon an open diary each time I read one of your blogs. I realized that you couldn’t possibly be her due to the fact that a) she’s never been married, b) I am much younger than your parents and c) I’ve thankfully never stumbled across a cache of her sex toys. Thank god for that as I lean towards prudishness despite growing up in the midst of the sexual revolution.

    I smiled when I was reading your blog about gaydar. If lesbians intuitively recognize a member of Sapho’s sect, why do they routinely misread me? My daughter insists that I am secretly gay, and simply in denial. A case in point. Once I was on a plane and the woman who was sitting beside me was clearly not heterosexual….. it wasn’t gaydar. I knew my daughter was a lesbian from the age of eighteen months on or so. A mother just knows these things. Anyway the woman had a number of bags she was trying to stow under her seat but couldn’t quite figure out the best way to do it. I came to her assistance as I am the queen of space management and organization. She was so grateful that she high fived me…” See mom. That’s the secret lesbian code.” my daughter said laughing her ass off. Ha! If the truth must be told, I love the sisterhood of women. Just not that way. Since my hormones launched me into men-o-pause, I’ve done just that. Paused with the men. I’d never have the time to write novels if I had one constantly under my feet.

    Anyways….. You’ve been blessed with sardonic wit and a brilliant style of writing. Every blog doesn’t have to be a master piece. I’m sure that your readers will stay with you no matter what you write. I have a feeling that if you did a compilation of your blogs and entitled it something like, “From the Journals of Baroness Lesbiana Von Lichtenclit”, and pitched it to a publisher you’d sell a million copies. Just sayin’.

    Hasta la victoria siempre!

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    • 

      I consider it a true compliment that you’d compare my writing to your daughter’s. I’m not a mom, but I know that mine thinks everything I do is a notch above what anyone else can do (and I assume all mothers feel that way) … so for you to allow that my writing is even similar to Mariko’s is quite something in my book!

      Since you love the sisterhood of women and already know the secret code, you should ask your daughter to download the forms so you can apply for membership as an Honorary Lesbian. It’s pretty cool because you get all the same rights and privileges as a regular lesbian. Just not that way. 🙂

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  5. 

    A post about performance anxiety that performed really well! Don’t worry about measuring up. The fun thing about Freshly Pressed is the bit where new readers go back and read old posts and enjoy those, too. That’s why we stick around – it’s not like you have to write ON DEMAND INSTANTLY NOW NOW NOW! I’ll be happy to see you show up in my reader whenever you’ve got something to say: you say things so, so well.

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  6. 

    Actually… now that I think it over, I never actually expected anything from you. Like I expect Colinology to rave about his life and his boyfriend, The Middlest Sister about her nostalgic funny moments of childhood, The Gay Mom about his gay mom, German Is Easy! for German Wisdom. And so on.

    Nope. I expect nothing from you. I have liked a bunch of your post and check them out in my reader time to time. But I do know you vividly in my memory. So don’t worry. We will wait and watch for you while your brain has his share of sandwich. 🙂

    (And I wrote the names of blogs in caps so that I don’t have to give links. I go lazy and it feels spam to link them on such a mass basis. But they are all fun! So do check them out.)

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  7. 

    ha ha I’m new to this whole blogging thing and this is just plain hilarious.
    You are a great writer and I can sense the funny from your writing. Just keep writing and all will be well in the blogsphere 🙂

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  8. 

    I was stuck in the same situation last night – staring at a blank screen with a post to write (however, I was NOT just Freshly Pressed, which of course is unbelievably unfair 🙂 ) I finally wound up writing a post about a perverted person I used to date who, I found, had a cache of woman-hating porn that starting with whips, ball gags and defecation, and, had I looked long enough, likely included snuff films. In the end I wimped out and published it privately – the dude is an attorney, and there were enough distinguishing characteristics even without mentioning a name, someone could have figured out who he is. It wasn’t worth getting sued. So I wrote something, but nobody gets to read it. Boo.

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    • 

      It is unbelievably unfair that you haven’t been Freshly Pressed YET. What are they waiting for? Also unfair is that we don’t get to read about Poopy McSnufferton. At least he’s someone that you used to date though, glad you found out and got out. Eww!

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  9. 

    miss awesomesauce, i come bearing a cyber-y cup of tea. (the name of the tea is snail-berry. i’m not joking. it’s very tasty, but there are no actual snails in it. i asked.) now take a deep imaginary sip and go all warm and froofy on the inside. breathe. restart.

    tea is the Answer To Everything. ❤

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  10. 

    Your brain was limp and flaccid…lol…that’s a clean sentence in my blog. Yours is much more mature so you chose what you put out for everyone to see more carefully. Nothing wrong with that. Even though I write about nonsense and it’s far from pretty writing, I also can’t force my BS. It has to at least be BS that I’m feeling. Still, I enjoyed this post as well as the first one I read. Who cares what others think anyway. Write for your own mental well being.

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  11. 

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m enjoying the hell out of your blog. No pressure or anything.

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  12. 

    If the brain wants a sandwich, the brain wants a sandwich. I find food to be a good distraction from head freeze. Try not to worry about it too much, you’re obviously a very talented writer! This is probably more common than you think, it certainly hit a nerve with me. I can never ever ever, think of anything to write. But something normally materialises after waaaay too long staring at my laptop. Normally a sandwich!

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  13. 

    We feel your pain. In the end, we decided to go for something completely different after being freshly pressed and it seems we managed not to scare our new subscribers off. we’re really enjoying your writing and happy to have discovered you through said freshly pressed article.

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  14. 

    Well, I guess it’s a good thing we already decided we like you!
    Chin up!
    Love,
    A new follower

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  15. 

    dear puckerup buttercup (love the name)
    being under the anxiety of nothing coming to mind, post the freshly pressed bit it still understood…as against someone who rejects ideas one after the other…
    am one such person, who’s constantly inflicted with the ‘writer’s block’ and when any thought does happen to pass by…don’t like it enough to pursue it and then the harsh decision of ‘kill your darlings’…
    but when am brave enough to be true to me….i know the reason why i am blogging is because i want to be true to me ….i want to write what i feel, when i feel…(else i would have taken it up as a job)… so i know what you mean….
    love reading whatever you write (no pressure there)…
    M
    ps: am just a two-bit writer/blogger…who may seem to have preached beyond means…but no offence meant…(and i hope none-taken)

    Like

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