Saturday, September 10, 2011

Conquering Writer's Guilt

One of the things I’ve been contemplating this past week has centered on why writers can’t stop themselves from writing.

Admit it. If you don’t write on a regular basis, you get cranky, unbalanced, and not pleasant to be around. Little things that have no import begin to tick you off for no real reason. In the end, you must take up paper and pen or keyboard and monitor to put something in writing, whether anyone else will ever read it or not.

Many of you are nodding, thinking back to when you were a youngster and creeping off to a corner where no one would find you for a while, in an effort to put your thoughts, ideas, and ponderings into a more permanent form.

Some of you, like me, were either teased about your use of words or discouraged in a more hurtful way. It wasn’t pleasant. You felt misunderstood, unworthy, and alone in a world that didn’t honor you. I remember those days well. By the time adulthood came along, you probably had no more belief in your abilities or writing dreams than anyone else had shown throughout your life.

I’ve never understood why those who are supposed to love us can’t give encouragement to a child’s dreams and aspirations. I’m at an age now where I know that I’ll never understand a person’s need to berate another rather than move toward understanding.

Whether we still hunker in corners for secret writing sessions or sit at desks and flaunt our right to express ourselves to the world, one aspect of a writer’s life tends to remain true; at least in my experience.

We all tend to feel guilty if we haven’t written anything on any given day. It doesn’t seem to matter how busy and cluttered with errands that day has been. What matters is the reality that we didn’t find at least fifteen minutes to put words down for use later.

Guilt seems to be built into the job description of most writers. You feel guilty if you’re running behind on a timeline, even if you’re the one who created the timeline. Pangs of guilt flutter around your head every time you think you haven’t spent enough time on research, editing, critiquing of other’s work, what-have-you.

Have you kept your presence fluid and immediate on your social networks and the media? Another source of guilt has come to roost on your head. Have you been keeping close enough email ties to your contacts? No? Well, you’d best get cracking. You could lose those contacts. They could be offended and never really be friends with you again.

You see what I’m talking about. Be honest. You’ve felt some, in not all, of these symptoms of a Writer’s Guilt. The cause is unknown. It lies so deep inside the psyche that few, if any, would find it without a bulldozer and other heavy equipment.

The only cure is striving for a regular dose of preventative. Write a long email to someone you’ve not contacted in a while. Apologize for the oversight--make no promises about doing better, since that leads to more guilt later—and be positive in your relating of doings in your life, what you’ve been working on, and how insanely chaotic your personal life has been. That will take care of that problem for now.

Edit an old story and get it submitted anywhere. It doesn’t matter where. It’s the submission that matters. Another symptom will be gone for the moment.

Continue with these types of firebreaks and soon the guilt will be controlled. You will be able to say “See, what I’ve done this week. I’ve gotten all of this done.”

Until the next time I feel guilty about neglecting this blog for another, have a great weekend and week to come.


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