On Writing and...not writing

guilt_got-guilt-buttonOne of my writing partners recently wrote me looking for affirmation to discontinue her blog. She’s blogging elsewhere and needs that time to actually work on her writing projects. Maintaining her blog was feeling like a chore. On the outside, this kind of thing is clear. If you aren’t enjoying it and you can’t see that it’s serving a purpose, stop doing it. Yeah….but writers tend to internalize things. What if someone was looking forward to that next post? What if? What if? What if?

There is always one more manuscript from a writing partner or one more marketing opportunity or even one more BOOK. Sometimes doing anything enjoyable brings up that “Really, I should be writing that scene about the Laundromat” voice and that’s the worst because you need to live life in order to write about it. All of those experiences help your writing. Who knows what you’ll overhear or conjure up while you’re on a bike ride or out for ice cream or walking the dog.

And yet….

This spring I did something awful to my back. Emergency room awful. I spent a month basically in a medicated fog on the couch only moving when I had a doctor’s appointment or had to get some work done to pay for the meds and the emergency room.

I’d just decided what my next writing project was going to be, but hadn’t really sunk my teeth into it yet. Every single day, while I was on the couch, I told myself that I needed to be writing. After all we’re only as strong as our next project and sure, I have something coming out in 2014 and 2015 and I have a manuscript that I LOVE that I’m hoping will find a home somewhere in there, but this new idea was calling to me and I just couldn’t concentrate enough to write it.

That was April. Only in the last few weeks have I been able to really tackle this project and I’m sure part of the reason is that I was spending so much time feeling guilty about not writing that I had no time to write (in fairness, in that time I revised three manuscripts so I wasn’t a total slacker, but still….).

A couple of days ago, I realized that this project has taken hold of me in the same way that past ones have. Scenes come to me in my sleep, in the shower, while I’m walking the dog. Everything I see ties back to this manuscript. I have to hold myself back from sending snippets to the above writing partner because…well, she needs time to write her own stuff, but I do tell her how much I’m falling in love with these characters. Even the horrible ones.

What changed? Somewhere in there, I gave myself permission to not feel guilty. I have some huge life changing events in the works that have demanded a certain level of attention and I had to allow myself to accept that I would never be one of those writers who churns out three books a year. My writing process doesn’t really allow for that even if the rest of my life did. Which is doesn’t.

Clearing out that “Oh crap, I should be writing” voice from my head created room for….writing. So I’m calling on you to clear out your own guilt and create time for….whatever your heart tells you to do in whatever time feels right to YOU. Really. It’s okay.