This post is a shout out, a high five, a hug, to all the writers out there currently feeling guilty about the fact that they are not, at this very moment, writing.
Writing is kind of similar to A-Level revision in that when you’re not doing it, you feel bad about it. You feel like you’re letting yourself down and that you’re definitely going to fail because you’ve dared to stop for half an hour to have a Cornetto or a milkshake or to – heaven forbid – take a day off to hang out with friends, decorate the bathroom or get on top of that weeding.
But I’m here to say that we need to give ourselves a break.
There is no denying that if you’re going to do this thing – to get those words down, blogs posted, chapters finished, deadlines met – then you are going to have to put the time in and get your sh*t together, because nobody’s gonna do it for you, but you also have to cut yourself some slack.
You need to make time for writing – lots of time, let’s be honest about that – but you also need to be OK with having time when you don’t write. In fact, I think it’s a good idea to have time when you decide specifically not to do it. Book yourself in for a spot of relaxation, a nap, an episode or seven of Orange is the New Black and do it without a computer screen in front of you. It’ll do you and your words the world of good. Step away from the light.
For anybody who doesn’t write or have another all-consuming passion, this might sound mad. But, for me at least, the guilt is just part of the deal and it’s my job to manage it so that I can do it all whilst still, you know, leaving the house every now and then and maintaining relationships with actual human beings.
One of the ways round it – obviously – is to have a plan. Whenever I have a clear list of things that I can tick off when they’re done, I feel more able to give myself permission to put the laptop away and do something else – change that bed, go out for that dinner, or just sit and stare hard into that abyss – whatever I want; it’s my time and I’ve earnt it because I’ve made progress. Because that’s what this game is all about after all.
And we all know that even if we’re not actually writing, we’re still thinking about it. The ideas are ticking over, the jokes are formulating, and the words are starting to form into sentences that will be ready to fall out of our minds and onto the page as soon as we can get our hands on a notebook. So we never really truly stop.
So this is for you, fellow guilt enthusiasts. I feel your pain. But let’s ease off a bit shall we, give ourselves a break. That milkshake isn’t going to drink itself now, is it?