Today marks the last day of my vacation. Tonight I will sleep in my own bed, in my own apartment, in the city I call home. While it will be very sad to leave all the friends and family I rarely get to see, it will be good to get back into things as usual.
But. Knowing I was leaving soon changed a lot of priorities this week. Spent more time out of the room with family and friends, and been a lot less disciplined when it comes to my writing. I daresay I even tried this thing called relaxing. The result being I am several thousand words behind in Spiralling Draft Two, and Valentine & Maxwell? Hah. I don’t even want to think about how far behind I am. The next week at home is going to involve a lot of hard work and catching up.
While I’ve been falling behind, other writers I know have also struggled with delays and such in their own ways, and it’s gotten me thinking about how much pressure writers put on ourselves. No one has placed this burden on our shoulders – we put it there ourselves, and we are mostly the only ones who care if we make it or not.
Most writers have full time jobs, complete lives outside of our passion, and sometimes those things get in the way of our writing. Life challenges get in the way. Other people get in the way. And who do we blame when we don’t get as much work done as we want because of influences outside of our control? We blame ourselves. And then we roll around in a giant pit of guilt until we somehow manage to get back on our feet.
True, there is no-one else to blame, really. We’re the only ones not putting words on the page; we rarely have colleagues or team-mates to share the burden. But honestly, here’s what I keep wondering. Why do we have to blame ourselves so much? Why do we have to feel so guilty? I do it myself a lot, and I get how easy it is. We set this mission for ourselves and now we’re not accomplishing it the way we should or as quickly as we planned.
I become absolutely wrecked with guilt when I don’t manage to write, and then I get so caught up in blaming myself for it that it makes it harder to get started again. That’s an evil circle not fun getting caught in. But I have found a magical cure that makes it so much easier to get started after a brief period of inactivity.
I forgive myself for not having written as much as I should. I acknowledge that I did my best under the circumstances, and that falling behind is not failing. Giving up is failing, and just because I haven’t done as well as expected lately, I have far from given up.
I forgive myself for being a few thousand words behind in the second draft and for not completing and putting up that episode of Valentine & Maxwell that was due on Wednesday. I’m not happy about these delays, but my rational brain can understand why it happened and I forgive myself for it.
Meaning I can stop tormenting myself for the rest of the day and start working my ass off back home to get back on schedule.
And anyone out there not doing as well as they expected to or want to; please, acknowledge the things outside of your control that delay you, accept your limitations and forgive yourself for not being a writing god with endless energy and time.
Trust me, moving forward without the weight of that pointless blame on your shoulders is a lot more productive than constantly dragging it around with you.