We all get it from time to time. Or if you’re extra neurotic like me, in passing moments, Every. Single. Day. As I type these words, my almost two-year-old is climbing up into my lap, dueling it out with the laptop for my attention. When I see her smiling and doing cute things, I swallow another dose of that bitter-tasting emotion.
Betcha you’ve had one of these thoughts before:
I’m not writing enough. I haven’t made my word count for the week.
I’m writing too much. The laundry and dishes are piling up.
I’m not making enough time for (insert whoever is making you feel that guilt here).
I’m a firm believer that writers understand emotion better than most people. We’re empaths by nature. So it only makes sense that we recognize where we believe we’re falling short, and turn that into shame and guilt. And we sure don’t like to disappoint our loved ones because we’ll feel their disappointment as a result.
Here’s the thing. We write because we enjoy it, right? We picked out this torturous profession because we’re passionate about it. Or at least, I hope you did. Otherwise, run as fast as you can in the other direction.
This career isn’t for the faint of heart.
Jobs come in all shapes and forms. This one happens to typically take place at home, usually in our pajama uniform. The thing we forget is that it’s still a profession. Outside of the house, piles of dirty laundry don’t stare at you like they’re going to eat you alive. You would just be allowed to do your work. So why can’t we just do our work?
Right now, close your eyes and ask yourself why you write. Seriously. Don’t keep reading this post until you’ve formed an answer.
Okay. Now that we’ve established why we write, we have a reason to do it. Which means we can get to the root of the real problem. Which is why we can’t do it. Or why we can’t do it to our full potential.
For me, guilt isn’t just a problem. It’s the biggest one. Personally, my best work happens when I’m excited and motivated. I want to be my best self while I’m writing because that’s when the magic happens.
Here’s one of the biggest kept secrets no one really talks about. When we allow guilt to seep into our creative processes, our art suffers as a result. As much as you may love your husband/wife/child/cat/dog/friend, remember they are but equal servings in the dinner course that is your life. You may love dessert, but would you be happy eating only dessert? Probably not. Unless you are like me while I was pregnant, but that’s a whole other story. The point is, while all of those things matter, we forget that we matter, too. Which means the things we love matter.
So let that crap go.
It might sound overly simple, and it is. We just try and make it more complicated by coming up with excuses. The best way to do that? Melissa Wright offered a few writing hacks her recent post: Writing Hacks: 5 Quick Tips to Keep Your Word Count High. Jennifer Silverwood also wrote about her journey and gave solid advice about mastering time-management: A Writer’s Journey ~ Online Intervention.
Time-management helps. It’s not the only solution, but it has made a difference in my life. When my daughter came into this world, I realized I didn’t have time for both her, my writing, and those other filler things. You know the things I’m talking about. Gaming apps. Pointless television. Social media. I had to make a lot of cuts in order to make time for the things that truly matter.
While my baby girl may not have my full attention at the moment, I have several dedicated hours set aside for only her. That way, she can not only see but feel the difference between work-mode mommy and playtime mommy. Aren’t both as equally as important? I’d like to think so.
Lastly, remember to treat yourself better.
You are on that dinner plate too. In fact, you’re the main-freaking-course! And let’s be honest. If the main course doesn’t taste good, nothing else can really make up for it.
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4 thoughts on “Winning the Battle of Writer’s Guilt”
THIS. Great post @bellemalory! I so often need reminded to let myself live (and to let myself work) without guilt for doing it.
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Thank you! You deserve both 🙂
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This is so true. Every. Word. I go through that same guilt too all the time and you’re right. We writers love to be masochists apparently because we’re always beating ourselves up about something in the strive to be and do better. I’m so glad to have you part of my writing team now because we sisters gotta band together to keep from doing that to ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with this post!
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Thank you! One of the things I forgot to mention is that I think the guilt gets stronger for people who enjoy their work. Because we’re not only taking time to work, but it also feels like we’re taking time for ourselves. And I’m so glad to be part of this team!!! 🙂 Thanks for inviting me along.
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