Sunday, 12 August 2018

How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Writing Enough

Hardwick Hall Garden, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith

Do you sometimes feel a bit of a fraud? Think to yourself, 'Who am I kidding? I'm not a writer, I'm not writing any words. I'm a failure, I should pack it in and forget about writing a novel.' This is a mindset amongst writers that is much more common than you think. Many feel they're failing, but it is possible to turn these thoughts and fears around.

Here are three hacks that will help you to overcome self doubt and allow you to celebrate your successes.


  • Shut Your Inner-Critic Up  - When the voice in your head tells you you're no good and you can't do this, you must tell it the very opposite. Say to yourself, out-loud if it's possible 'I can do this, I'm in control and I'm learning and growing everyday.' When the voice says you've messed that up, respond with, 'Okay, that hasn't worked, but I can do this!' Use self-talk to flip negatives into positives. It really works. 

  • Write Yourself a Reverse 'To Do List' - An Achievement List - Instead of a huge list of all the writing tasks you've got to do this week - write a list of all your past achievements, and put it on view somewhere where you're going to see it regularly. Stick it on the fridge, or on the wall near to where you write. You'll still need your 'to do list' for the week ahead but having your achievement list nearby will remind you that you're a writer and you can do it! 

  • Shift Your Perspective - If you're disappointed because you haven't done any writing this week, then you need to shift your perspective. It's a state of mind that can be shifted. Being disappointed or doubting yourself is a sign that you really care about something in the first place, and that's a positive thing. Start telling yourself about the brilliant things you've already done this week. It might not be three thousand new words on your novel, but you may have listened to a helpful podcast on outlining or helped a writing buddy out with their writing, or ran a writing group session. Sometimes, we have to make allowances, but there is usually something writing related that we have done. 
Break through those blocks that are making you feel inadequate, turn 'can't into 'can' and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. 


11 comments:

  1. I used to always beat myself up about not having time to write, not writing enough and felt like a fraud. Instead of putting pressure on myself now I have prioritised and tell myself it's not a race. I'm focusing on one/two short stories at the moment until I finish them. I've always been concerned about never finishing them so instead of trying to do so much I thought do one at at time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great attitude Jen, I'm with you, I too used to beat myself up, but I've learnt to look at the positives and prioritise, and when the going gets tough, I step back and look at the bigger picture.

      Delete
  2. I do like the achievement list idea, Maria. I suffer from procrastination and I'm sure the only way I get anything finished is by writing with pen and paper on trains and in cafes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If that's what gets you writing Rosemary go with it! I'm currently doing most of my words in hotel lobbies and coffee shops.

      Delete
  3. I never feel guilty for not writing - I think guilt is a pointless emotion - but sometimes I'm disappointed that I haven't achieved more. I do like you second suggestion and am going to adopt it. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lindsay, go you for not feeling guilty, I'm training myself out of it.
      The achievement thing really works for me. I do it at a very low level - I keep a note of all that I do in a week that is writing related, such as #writingchat, listening to podcasts, penning flash fiction or looking for competitions, as well as writing my novel. I look at it often because it makes me feel good when the voice in my head says, 'so you missed your novel writing slot again' usually due to care responsibilities or heavy traffic - The Achievement list makes me realise that I may not have been able to write any words, but I've done stuff, and that makes me feel good!.

      Delete
  4. I've been in a bit of a crisis. Haven't seen the point to write. 32 novels on the shelf, and the income could hardly pay for a steak dinner for my wife and I. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, don't feel down. All those novels, that's a fantastic achievement in itself.
      Sending happy vibes.

      Delete
  5. I love this positive post Maria. I think everyone has times of feeling guilty for not doing enough. I know I often feel bad for not utilising my time properly. Everyone else has finished a book (or many books) - how have I not even written one yet? But you're right, I should concentrate on what I have done. It's all excellent advice. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah CJ, I've been writing a book forever! Some of us just take longer at stuff. :-)

      Delete
  6. I still feel guilty about not putting my fingers to the keyboard, but I know that I'm still working on the writing in other ways.

    ReplyDelete

I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!

Making Time When You Have No Time, 0r Stop Being Lazy - Which is it?

Filling the 'Creative Well' in Oxford  - Maria A Smith  The title of this post is long, I couldn't decide between 'Maki...