I found myself using this phrase when explaining to a friend my current frame of mind when writing my new book.
And I was talking to my son in his final year at university who describes a similar state (sometimes not controlled). It sounds like a ridiculous contradiction - controlled panic - but is there any other way of writing to a deadline?
The point is that no piece of writing is ever perfect, and unless it's a shopping list or such, most writing is going to have an element of the unknown about it. Essentially the unknown is: Will my brain produce the write words, any words, in time?
There doesn't seem to be a way of being entirely calm about this. Creativity comes at a price. What's inside has to come out, and the process of writing is like the unlatching of a box of tricks. We just don't know what's inside. Perhaps that's why we're all so scared.
A novel is a particularly tough mountain to climb because there's just so much of it. I always have a slight feeling that if I don't write fast enough, I might not capture all the words that are out there. It will all just flit away - not what I know for sure what the 'it' is.
I crave work that is just calm and final - like washing up or making beds. I've craved all my life work that is finite. But goodness knows what I'd do with my spin drier psyche if there wasn't a book to write.