writer’s guilt (or what happens when I’m too hard on myself)

I feel guilty when I don’t write… which only makes the whole writer’s block thing that much worse. I’m stuck. I’m berating myself because I’m stuck. I become even more entrenched… I’m not even stuck plotwise. I know where it’s going and the rewrite is making my narrative that much stronger, but I’m emotionally drained and tired. Just sooo tired all the time lately. Ugh, I hate thinking about it because then I feel even guiltier. Then there’s this sense that I should be doing what Writer X is doing and waking three hours early to write before going to work and la di da. It’s not the way I work… and I know it’s not healthy to compare, but it doesn’t mean I don’t fall into that trap.

Part of it stems from the fact that we’ve acquired a writer at work. Now, I neverย ever tell anyone I work with about my writing (with one exception) because I don’t want to mix work with what I do outside of work. I’m strictly about keeping these two worlds separate. I have enough nosy stalkers as it is. But this is a person who is ALWAYS writing . ALWAYS. For HOURS. ALL DAY! And I can’t do that. Whether it’s lack of drive or lack of concentration, I’ve never been able to spend all day in front of a screen or notebook working on a single task. I’m dedicated, but my body just can’t handle being that dedicated.

This person’s fervor makes me feel lesser. Like I’m not doing enough. But then I start to think about it and realize that she also doesn’t work an 8 hour job or seem to do anything other than write. As far as I can tell, she has no other obligations. She’s made this a full-time job of her own… which brings me back to the need to stop comparing and move past the guilt. I’m trying to balance too much as it is and feeling bad about not meeting some vague ideal is not helping.

Anyone else feel guilty when not writing? I often find myself wishing I had a local writer’s group to meet with (for that extra push), but most of the writers in my area are memoirists with a will of their own.

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Author: gricel d.

writer. librarian. cat lady.

5 thoughts on “writer’s guilt (or what happens when I’m too hard on myself)”

  1. I’m the exact same way. I have one writer friend who manages to balance schoolwork, a musical group, and writing. He’s almost done his first fantasy novel, and it makes me feel bad that I don’t do that much compared to him and I’m so far behind in my writing.

    For me, it’s a lack of concentration. I always find a bunch of other hobbies to pay attention to or something else to do. When I do sit and write, it’s for a long period of time, but then I burn out for weeks. I wish I could concentrate daily on writing, even for half an hour.

  2. I definitely feel this guilt too! Whenever I get stuck I always start thinking about how short our lives can be and how terrible it would be if I died before I finished my first novel– which only shuts my creativity down even more! When it gets really bad I just have to start planning fun-only weekends and giving myself ridiculously small daily word count goals so I can still feel like I’m making progress without putting pressure on myself to finish an entire scene/chapter/etc.

    Don’t let faster writers make you feel bad. Just because they write more doesn’t mean they write better. Everyone has stories to tell and yours are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Cheers!

  3. The people I work with appear to have this impression that I write all day, every day; because the times they ask are usually Mondays when I’ve had all weekend to really make some progress (amidst doing lots of other, non-writing things) and because I don’t mention when I’ve not been writing. I have to work in bursts – maybe 30 mins or so then change to something else.

    Having said this, writers tend to feel “not enough” no matter who they’re around and how much they manage to write; so you’re definitely not alone.

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