Many writers complain about writer’s block, but that’s never really been a problem for me. I have so much stuff I want to write, but not enough time to write it. I suffer from the opposite of writer’s block— writer’s guilt.
I feel guilty doing anything with my time other than writing. Like going to family parties. Shopping. Site-seeing. Going out to a bar or club to meet new people. Or just hanging out with friends. All that stuff seems like a waste of time. Precious time that I could spend writing. I feel guilty doing anything that won’t somehow advance my writing career.
I make excuses for watching movies and reading books . I see those activities as acceptable uses of my time because they serve as inspiration for my writing. I also excuse exercise because it’s necessary for my health, both physical and mental. Daily exercise helps me to think clearer and write better and more often. Finally, I excuse eating and sleeping… well, because I have to. But that’s about it. Doing anything else seems like a waste of time to me.
It’s difficult breaking into an artistic career like creative writing. But I am committed. I want to devote every possible second I can towards advancing my writing career. If I don’t, that may mean I don’t want it enough and therefore may never get it.
I never had many friends because of social anxiety, and now, because of writer’s guilt, I never spend any time trying to make new friends. Going out to meet people seems like a waste of time that I could be writing. But maybe I’m taking my writer’s guilt too far. Maybe I’m only using writer’s guilt as an excuse for my social anxiety.
There’s a fine line between being a hard worker and a workaholic, and I’m still trying to find that balance. It’s especially difficult in a self-employed career like writing. I can work any time, any where, all day, every day. Even if I don’t have a computer or paper and pen, I can be thinking about stories in my head.
But it’s not healthy to always be in my head, in the imagined worlds of my writing. It’s not healthy for all my relationships to be with the fictionalized characters from my stories. It’s not good for my health, and it’s not good for my writing, either. All work and no play makes for a dull life.
It’s important to get out sometimes and be with real people in the real world. I shouldn’t always view that as a waste of time. The real world is where I can get new fuel for my fiction writing. Rather than only getting inspiration from TV, books, and movies, I can get inspired by actual people in the real world.
Plus, in the real world, I may meet someone who can help me along in my writing career. Or, I can meet a friend who has nothing to do with writing and is just a friend. Human relationships are important, and I shouldn’t view time devoted to developing them as a waste. I shouldn’t feel writer’s guilt over being with people, especially family and friends. After all, they’re often the greatest source of inspiration.
The real writer’s guilt I should feel is the time I spend procrastinating. Surfing the internet when I’m supposed to be writing. Sometimes I rationalize it to myself by calling it “research”. I’ll be writing and have to look something up, but then I’ll go on a wild tangent. Before I know it, two hours have gone by without me writing a single word. The web page I find myself on usually has nothing to do with the original “research” I was supposedly doing in the first place. That is a true waste of time. That’s what I should feel guilty about. That is writer’s guilt.