I was reminded recently of something my friend Kiracee once said:
I’ve felt so guilty over not having time to write that I’ve been avoiding goodreads, as if I don’t deserve to spend time with other writers when I’m too busy to write. Ridiculous. You’d think I would know better at my age.
And, after all these years of trying, I still have nothing to show for it but a hard drive littered with partially finished stories and a mountain of guilt.
I’m pretty sure guilt is a part of the writing package. Unless you’re Stephen King, who writes like his life depends on it. Love the man, but he’s an unnatural standard to live up to.
That’s why I post articles in my writing group about letting yourself off the hook every once in a while. In between all the stuff about improving technique and telling a good story, we all have to work on self care. Sometimes self care is binge watching a good TV show with our favorite junk food. Sometimes it’s taking care of everyday life so when we do have time to write, we don’t have a dozen other things distracting us from our main focus.
And trust me when I tell you many of us have unfinished business lurking in drawers or on flash drives somewhere. I like to think mine will be completed one day, even if they’re never published. But all stories are stepping stones. They’re all a part of the journey we take to become the best writers we can become. And since we’re always striving to be better, every once in a while, you have to let yourself acknowledge the difference between a story that’s going to take more time to write and one that’s merely there to help you get better for the one you’re going to complete. Some of our ideas just aren’t meant to be completed stories. And it’s okay. I’ve done everything from completing a short story in five hours to writing a novella over the course of a year and a half (Envy), to writing 7,000 words on my best day. There are good and bad days and months and years. The important thing is to keep learning and growing.
One thing that might help you is to look at something you wrote years ago, even just a couple of years, and compare how much your writing has grown in the meantime. Sometimes I do that to remind myself how much progress I’ve made – especially on days when I feel like I’m not making any at all. I promise all the stress and tears are worth it. Just take care of yourself and the writing will fall into place.