Writer’s guilt. That horrible feeling when you experience when you fail to write. I’ve long struggled with writers guilt subsequent to writing only sporadically. But as I approach the end of the first draft of my first novel, I’m finally getting into the groove of writing regularly. Here are some of the techniques I’ve employed that have helped me get writing and avoid writers guilt.
- Make promises.
I found that making promises on a regular basis extremely helpful. I make weekly writing promises and promises for each writing session. It helps to make these promises in a tangible and measurable form so you know if you met them. This is why I prefer to make my writing promises in number of words, pages, and scenes written rather than in time spent writing. The former is much more concrete because you know when you’ve written a page, but it’s easy to sit for a hour “writing” while only actually typing for a few minutes.
- Hold yourself accountable.
Promises are somewhat meaningless if you don’t hold yourself accountable to them. This may seem rather obvious, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of making excuses to yourself about why you haven’t written. But if you are committed to your writing, you owe it to yourself to meet your own writing promises and goals. That being said, when you fall short, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Acknowledge that you haven’t kept your promise, and then make a new one that you can keep.
- Don’t wait until you’re in the mood to write.
When you are serious about your writing, you simply cannot afford to wait until you feel like writing to write. If you wait to feel in the writing mood, you might never or rarely write. Remember that your writing is more important than your feelings about writing. Besides, I’ve found the quality of my writing has little to do with how “in the mood” I’ve felt at the time. And most of the time when I force myself to get started, the writing is flowing before long.
- Schedule writing time.
We live busy lives, and our schedules fill up quickly. So it’s easy to run out of time to write. I try to avoid this pitfall by scheduling time on my calendar just for writing. This also helps me avoid only writing when I’m in the mood.
- Shut down distractions.
Computers are great for writing, but they are also big sources of distraction. When you are entering into scheduled writing time, shut down other programs on you computer like chat and email clients that might distract and interrupt you. Also turn off televisions and silence cellphones. There are also writing programs that help eliminate distractions with features like full screen mode.
- Try a change of scenery.
If you really can’t get any writing done in your normal writing spot, try changing locations. I’ve found that going out to write forces me to both schedule writing time and get away from writing distractions like the internet.
- Gather support.
Writing may be a solitary activity, but you don’t always have to go it alone. Other people can be a great source of encouragement and support. I have an amazing writing critique group that helps me maintain a writing structure and gives me awesome feedback on my writing on a regular basis. If in person writing groups don’t work for you, look to writing communities online. There are writing chat rooms, forums and websites to be had.
- Keep at it.
Don’t give up! There are still times when I fail to write as often or prolifically as I would like, but I keep going back to it, and my persistence ultimately keeps the worst of my writer’s guilt at bay.