On writer’s guilt (and setting goals)

Posted December 13, 2016 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments

Writer’s guilt usually comes in the form of the voice that whispers you should be writing.

Writer’s guilt doesn’t care what else is going on in your life. If you work 40 hours a week, commute to work, and have kids (human or fur), you should still be writing enough to compete with people writing full time.

Writer’s guilt feeds you lies.

As I craft my writing and publishing plans for 2017, I’ve had to take a serious look at my priorities. In a community where we’re told to make time for writing and establish a writing habit (advice I’ve given myself), we’re sold the idea that we can do it all.

The truth is, you have a limited capacity for work. Our capacities are different—some can do more, some less than others—but we all have limits. Limits we have to respect.

I spent 2016 not respecting my limits and letting writer’s guilt keep me from being productive.

Get real about your priorities.

Setting priorities means ranking what’s important to you. It means something always has to win out over something else.

You have to be honest about what that is for you. Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s sleep and work. Maybe it’s family or exercise. Adventure or travel.

Life changes; priorities are fluid.

Let’s say writing is a priority—great. Perfect! But there are times when writing shouldn’t come before other priorities. Remember that limited capacity? When you’re low on energy, you can’t keep draining it; you have to fill it back up. (What’s that for you?)

Holidays, extra stress at work, family, life changes are all things that will drain your capacity. Writer’s guilt will tell you that you still have to write regardless, and it has the ability to mess up your priorities, to the point of not accomplishing anything at all.

How to get writing.

As you set your goals, take stock of everything you’ve got on your plate. Make sure you can reasonably fit writing into your life. Don’t let writer’s guilt tell you that you should be writing more.

Continually check in with yourself and your energy levels. Sometimes writing will have to take a back seat to other parts of your life, even if writing is a priority.

Clinging to writing as a priority is a recipe for writer’s guilt—which can grind your productivity to a halt. Aim for fluid priorities that adapt to what’s happening in your life. Fill yourself up when you’re low.

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