“Do what makes you anxious; avoid what makes you depressed,” said James Collier.
This is easily some of the best advice I’ve ever read. Collier works hard in his essay to define “anxious” as that butterflies-in-the-stomach nervousness, not terror. Fear is the mind’s danger signal, and it’s smart to pay attention to that. He also defines depression as that down-in- the-dumps ‘bleh” feeling, not clinical depression. For clinical depression, he recommends professional help. Some anxiety accompanies any change; change makes us nervous. It makes me anxious to think of myself as a writer trying to succeed, but that’s because of the challenge and because success isn’t guaranteed. But I’m going to continue to try to publish books because doing so makes me anxious, but not doing so, giving up on that dream, makes me depressed.
(If you want to read Collier’s excellent essay, the title is “Anxiety: Challenge by Another Name” and it has appeared in numerous anthologies for freshman composition writers and national magazines. I probably read it in the 8th edition of Models for Writers edited by Alfred Rosa and Paul Escholtz and published by Bedford St. Martin’s.)