Okay here I am, beginning another post with a “hi it’s been a while”. It looks bad. I get it. Anyway, hi, I am indeed back, hopefully for the foreseeable future.
I’ve had a break from writing, not entirely intentional but I’ve also not been in a big rush to come back. I’ve had my reasons, mostly work has been very busy/I’ve started a new job. Writing about fantasy has kinda taken a back seat while I work out what the hell I’m doing with my life.
Where was I?
Where was I last time I blogged on here? I’d just finished National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and I was talking about not beating yourself up over a little writing challenge.
Today, going on with the theme of not giving yourself a hard time, I’ll be talking about the guilt that comes with writer’s block. As well as abandoning this blog, I’ve not touched fiction writing since the start of December. I know, I’m terrible.
Hello darkness my old friend
Writer’s block came around as it often does, as it visits all of us from time to time, and it swiped the rug out from under my feet. There I was sort of proud that I’d written 30 thousand words in one month, and Writer’s Block came around and told me to fuck off.
And I listened, as I always do.
I’ve already touched on the downsides of National Novel Writing Month, and here I am a prime example of how forcing yourself to write even when you don’t want to might not be a good thing 100% of the time. It’s a good exercise and I’d recommend it, but it’s not all sunshine and roses.
I got really tired of pumping out shitty writing and thought, now’s a good time for a break, right?
So, nearly 3 months passed and the break was longer than I intended.
Why do I feel guilty?
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. We’ve all felt it, the frustration, the touch of self-loathing and among other things, the guilt that comes from writer’s block.
Yeah, even those of us who aren’t published and have zero readers feel guilty about not producing. No one’s waiting for my book to come out. So why the hell do I feel guilty?
Because I’m betraying myself in a way. Writing is a part of me. I don’t know why, I didn’t really choose it but here we are.
I’ve always been the type to flit between different things, but the one constant in my life has been writing. It’s how I make a living but fiction is how I want to make a life. Okay sorry that was corny as hell, but hopefully you get my meaning.
That’s why I feel guilty because I’m not doing myself justice. I’m letting other stuff take my energy and time away. My novels are just sitting there gathering dust and I want to tear through them again and bring them back to life.
There’s a weird geek of a writer who, when she isn’t busy writing about finance and software, wants to write about magic and castles instead. I need to stop ignoring that part of myself.
Dealing with writer’s block guilt
The first step to dealing with guilt is just accepting it. You feel bad for not producing and everyone does, no matter what stage they are at. But that guilt should only be allowed to go so far. Don’t let it stop you from producing because it will snowball.
Instead, force yourself to write something – right now if you can. It could be the world’s worst sentence but you’re one step closer to getting something good down. Then write another sentence. The next will be easier. You’ll hit another bump in the road or two but the important thing is to keep going as much as you can.
Coming back to a realisation
I had a taste of what my writing life could be last year.
I realised last autumn that I was working most of my life, like most of us do, and for what? I was making money to buy shit that made working easier. But I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do.
What I wanted was to work on my novels, on my world and create something new. Work was literally paying me to ignore my novel. And yes, I felt guilty about it.
So, I made it a habit to write fiction, almost every day, whenever I could. I had a good streak going for a while, wrote more than I’d ever done before. I even felt confident enough to tackle Nanowrimo with a new project. Then Nanowrimo and life and work stuff got in the way and I was back to where I started.
I’d let my working life take centre stage again. While this is obviously an important part of life and I’ve been working on making it better, it’s still not all me. It’s not the only important thing to me.
New plans for the future
The good thing about this writing thing is that if you give it up, you can come back to it. It’s not like ballet where you’ve got to start young and keep it up. I can stop writing and start again when I’m 50 if I really wanted to.
With that in mind, I needed a new plan. My plan originally has been to restart this blog after I go full-time freelance. But that’s still a week away. Why wait, really?
Thanks to a helpful member of the Twitter #WritingCommunity, I was encouraged to put a date in my calendar for this new post. She quite rightly called me out for saying I’d get back to blogging “soon”. She said “soon” is just tricking your brain into accepting where you are now. And I don’t accept it. I want more. So, here I am.
I’ve now made a content calendar, with dates for the next few months where I plan to release new content. If you see I haven’t, feel free to virtually poke me and ask what I’m playing at.
Writer’s block guilt = motivation?
What I want to say is that writing guilt can be a good and bad thing. Bad in the sense that we can wallow in it for so long it zaps all motivation to get out of that pit. On the good side, it’s made me question things and I feel motivated to start again.
Wish me luck, and good luck yourselves!
Are you guilty of letting other things get in the way of writing? Are you guilty about not writing enough? Feel free to pop your thoughts down in the comments.