I’m sure you’ve already heard of Writer’s Guilt. For those of you that haven’t, it’s that feeling that you get when you know you should be writing, but aren’t. The reason why you aren’t writing doesn’t matter. What matters is that, physically, you could be writing, but you aren’t.
It could be that you’ve decided that you don’t want to write on that 41st day in a row, or that you’re so drained from everything else in life that you just need a break.
So you don’t write.
And you feel bad about it.
Well here’s something that they don’t tell you:
Like the rest of the galaxy far, far, away, there are two sides to writer’s guilt.
I won’t get into the whole Dark-Side v Light-Side thing here because they’re both pretty nasty.
I’m going to call the other side of that vile, little coin: Reverse Writer’s Guilt.
This would be the guilt that you feel when your writing takes you away from things that you cold be doing. Now I’m not talking about dishes, or any of that day-to-day stuff.
Let me give you an example:
A few weekends ago, I had a nice 1200 word day. While that was going on, we got a delivery of hay (Yes, I have critters). It was somewhere around 100-150 bales. square, kinda heavy, etc.
I didn’t stop what I was doing to help. I knew that it would have fatally disrupted what I was doing, and I had a target I needed to hit.
I felt awful afterward. For writing.
A lot of reverse writer’s guilt has it’s roots in imposter syndrome.
Sure, if you were any good, if you were a “Real” writer, then putting your writing before the needs of other folk, would be understandable. But You, you’re only kidding yourself. Worse, you’re skipping out on someone who could use your help instead of you wasting your time. Why can’t you just stop what you’re doing? It’s only writing after all…
Like I said, pretty awful. It’s actually worse than straight-up Writer’s Guilt because it tarnishes what should be a great writing day.
Myself, I’ve got memories of how I I “Failed” to be there because I was writing, and that only makes it harder to sit down and write. To protect my writing time.
Which is all what this is about. Protecting your writing time, and respecting (yes, respecting) that writing time, and yourself as a writer.
Yes, Life is going to happen. Very little of it should warrant an interruption. If you’re consistent with it, everything else can be scheduled around your writing time. If you’re one of those folks that doesn’t want to lock themselves in, or prefers to write during different periods of the day, you might find it harder, but it is no less important to insist on that writing time.
First and foremost – when struggling with Reverse Writer’s Guilt – you must convince yourself that what you’re doing is as important (and it may be even more so) than what you’re putting off, missing, saying “No” to.
Secondly, you’ve got to go do the work.
And, afterward, when the world has, indeed, not ended. Remind yourself of this for the next time it happens (and it will).
Remember that the writing is important. It matters. The time you carve out for yourself needs to be respected and looked after.
Then go do it.