Writer’s Guilt

I stole something last week.


Time to work on my own writing.

I have been ready to dive into my major revision on my MG novel for weeks now, and have been frustrated at every turn. Nothing tragic happened, no sicknesses to contend with, just busy with the 100 things on my To-Do list, and the 50 other things that popped up that weren’t even on the list. So finally, I said to myself, “That’s it. Today and tomorrow everyone else’s stuff can wait, and I am working on mine.”

And I did.

I flew through nearly a third of the “new rough” draft. Exhilarating! I confided to a writing pal that I had done this, and she said, “You say that as if you did something naughty – heck, it’s your work!”

Her comment got me thinking: Why do I always feel guilty when I put myself first?

I tend to take on too much because my brain still lives in the time before toddler. Before toddler, I really could do it all, never dropping any balls. Now balls are dropping, rolling away, and hiding under the sofa next to the dust groundhogs (they’re too big to be bunnies). The balls I tend to drop first are the ones that apply to me – my writing, my sleep, my free time. Not because I’m an incredibly selfless individual, but because they are the easiest to deal with dropping. No one is affected by the dropping except me.

I also take on too much because there’s so much I WANT to do. Do I want to read a friend’s manuscript? YES! Do I want to edit someone’s work? YES! Do I want to be actively involved in my daughter’s MOMS Club? YES! Do I want to be part of wonderful group blog? YES! Do I want to spend time with my husband? YES! Do I want to spend time with my daughter? YES! Do I want to clean the house? Well, not so much, but you get the point.

So many interesting and exciting things to do, it’s hard to say no! So I usually don’t. And I usually get them all done. But look at what’s not on that list above: my own writing. Do I want to get my own writing done? YES…but…but… There’s always a “but.”

Writer’s guilt.

As if taking the time to write is “naughty” or selfish. As if I have internalized the common notion that what we do isn’t “real.” That it isn’t “work” if I’m not getting paid.

Well, I don’t get paid to be a stay-at-home-mom, either, and that certainly is real work! So I think I will work harder at giving myself permission to write. Permission to put my work first.

Because it is work.

And it is real.

Do you suffer from writer’s guilt? How do you cope?

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