author, creative writing, writing

How to Handle ‘Writer’s Guilt’

Writer’s guilt. We all get it, right? That feeling that we should be writing, or we should be writing more, or it’s been too long since we last wrote anything. It’s a horrible feeling, that niggles in the back of your mind and sends a flare of anxiety to your gut.

One of my favourite, and most relatable, writing quotes ever says:

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

But despite that, you can’t just stop doing all the other things in your life. Maybe you’re a student, or a parent, or you work full time..maybe even all three! There’s only so long you can ignore the housework, or go without clean socks. There’s dinners to be cooked, grocery shopping to be done, appointments to attend. You’ve got family to see, friends to support…you can’t just be absent, locked away with your writing, all the time.

So, how do we handle that niggling writer’s guilt, whenever we’re not writing?

Be kind to yourself
Beating yourself up isn’t productive. It’ll squash your confidence and damage your self esteem. Be kind to yourself, remind yourself you’re only human and there’s only so much you can do in one day. Don’t scold yourself for not making the time, especially when it isn’t always possible. You’re doing all you can, and that’s all that matters.
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Remember, it’s okay to have a break
Need to take a break from writing? That’s fine. You don’t need to justify it to anyone, and nobody knows what you need but you. In fact, taking a break can actually work to your advantage. Coming back to your work with fresh eyes and a refreshed mind can help you spot errors, fix plot holes and breathe new life into your words. If you feel you need a break, take it, otherwise you run the risk of burning out.
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Remind yourself you’re not alone
Writing is a solitary activity, and it’s easy to feel alone. You might feel as though every other writer out there is making great progress and hitting high word counts. But everybody struggles. Make sure you’re part of the online writing community and share your thoughts and worries. You’ll soon receive messages of support, and confirmation that other writers are going through/have been through the same as you.
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Write when you can
Fit in tiny bits of writing when you can. If all you write is a sentence, then that’s okay. If all you jot down is an idea then that’s okay too. Don’t wait for the perfect writing environment. Just write, whenever a window of opportunity presents itself. It’s important to keep up the habit of writing, especially if your main reason for not writing is because you’re procrastinating. You may find that your little moments of writing spark your imagination and get you back into more regular writing sessions.
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Plan your next big writing session
Try and work out a day when you can set aside an hour or so for writing. Having that to look forward to can help you to feel less guilty when you’re not writing, because you know you’ve got some dedicated time coming up.
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Do you ever get feelings of guilt when you’re not writing? How to you beat them? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so do drop a comment below.

Until then,
Keep writing (if you can!)

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24 thoughts on “How to Handle ‘Writer’s Guilt’”

  1. Some great advice! I feel like when I’m writing, I feel like I should be doing something else, but it’s important to make time for writing, as it’s a way to express yourself. I wish I could take my own advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Nobody knows what you need but you” – so true.
    I don’t feel guilt per se, but more of a “if you want to go somewhere, you need to be working towards it” nagging feeling.

    Scheduling some time for writing can definitely help. It feels more legit that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All great tips as usual! 💛 “You don’t need to justify it to anyone” also really resonated with me so much. I sometimes feel the need to rationalize/explain the logic of my feelings, but at the end of the day, they’re feelings. Something I really struggle with as well is the balance between “I need a break” and “I need to stop making excuses and cutting myself slack.” Working on it, though!

    Liked by 2 people

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