When you’re a writer, you may well occasionally feel guilty. In our driven society, it’s not unusual to feel like this if you’re doing anything that isn’t “work” but is vaguely important to you. So how do you cope with it? Here are five common writing “guilts” and how to manage them.
1) Spending too much time on writing
Whatever stage you’re at, writing takes time. Research is pretty much endless, then there’s the time it takes to build characters, outline your story, edit, edit and edit – and we all know you can’t invent extra hours in the day. Taking time to write can often make you feel like you’re neglecting other things in life – family, friends, housework, “life” admin, other hobbies. Really it’s something you (and those around you) have to accept. Creating a writing schedule can be a way of helping you balance everything.Or perhaps it might be useful to hack your brain into writing mode.
2) Spending too little time on writing
It’s a running joke in writing circles that a large part of being a writer involves talking about writing way more than, you know, doing it. Sometimes (often times) life gets in the way, especially if you’re not writing full-time. And all writers have creative ups and downs. Whether you need to write every day is up for debate, but writing just for the sake of it could have a negative impact on your relationship with it. Again a schedule may help, but there are times you just have to make peace with the fact you can’t write and enjoy it when you can.
3) Not being published/not selling enough
For some, simply writing is enough. For others finishing a book is their big accomplishment. And for others still, they want to get published. All these types of people are writers. Whether thousands of people read your work or you just read it to your cat (kudos if you do because they’re harsh critics), it doesn’t matter. It’s amazing to have your work published, but you’re not a failure if you haven’t. Similarly, should you sell five copies or five million, you’re no less or more of a writer. Comparing yourself to others is always a recipe for disappointment. Focus on yourself and your work.
4) Putting your writing above your job
There’s nothing wrong with being into your work or the company you work for, but it’s not going to be the case for everyone. Some people work to because money helps to, you know, survive, but overall, they put their writing above their job. And that’s okay.
5) Enjoying writing during tough times
The world has been a bit more chaotic than normal recently. It can be hard to write when your mind is so caught up with what’s going on (and that’s fine – see point two). But equally what we love can be our salvation in dark times. It can be an outlet, an escape. We may find ourselves writing more and finding joy in it – and then feeling guilty when we do. But no matter what, the world need your words. You may write about what’s happening and use your voice to highlight injustice. Or you may help people to escape. Whatever you do, trust me, it’s worth it.