As a writer, I dealt with a great amount of guild. Why? Well it's when I'm not writing due to procrastination, a lack of inspiration, or simply not dedicating enough time to my craft. I found that such feelings of guilt can be pervasive and damaging to creative process and even result in writer's block. So, in this article, we'll dive into the psychology behind feeling guilty for not writing and explore practical strategies for overcoming these feelings. By practicing self-compassion, setting realistic goals, connecting with other writers, and taking breaks, you can move past the guilt and become a more productive and fulfilled writer.
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What's the reason behind guilt when you're not writing?
You may ask yourself why do you feel guilty when you don't create or write? Well, there are many potential psychological reasons behind this guilt. However, they can be complex, and can vary depending on individual circumstances and experiences. Studies suggest that feelings of guilt related to writing can have negative consequences for creativity, productivity, and well-being. However, they also point to strategies that can help writers overcome these feelings and achieve greater success and fulfillment in their work. By practicing self-compassion, setting realistic goals, and connecting with others, writers can reduce feelings of guilt and improve their creative output.
One potential reason for feeling guilty is a sense of obligation or responsibility to one's craft. Many writers view writing as a central part of their identity or purpose, and may feel a sense of duty to create or produce on a regular basis. When this expectation is not met, it can lead to feelings of disappointment or guilt.
Another reason for feeling guilty may be related to self-esteem or self-worth. Writers and creative people often place a high value on their work and its reception by others. When they are not creating or writing, they may worry that they are not living up to their own or others' expectations, or that they are not contributing value to the world.
Additionally, feeling guilty about not creating or writing can be a form of self-sabotage or avoidance. Writers may use guilt as a way to motivate themselves to work harder, or to avoid confronting other issues or challenges in their lives. For example, if a writer is struggling with self-doubt or creative blocks, they may feel guilty about not writing as a way to avoid facing these deeper issues.
Guilt and writer's block
Guilt and writer's block are two interconnected concepts that often affect writers. Writer's block is a creative obstacle that writers experience when they are unable to produce new written work or experience a significant slowdown in their productivity. Guilt is an emotional response to an individual's perception of not meeting their expectations or falling short of their goals. The feeling of guilt can arise due to various reasons, such as procrastination, not dedicating enough time to writing, or not being productive as per the expectations.
When writers experience writer's block, it can often lead to feelings of guilt, which further exacerbates the creative block. Writers may feel guilty for not being productive or not dedicating enough time to their craft, which can lead to a vicious cycle of procrastination and self-doubt. This can also lead to anxiety and depression, which can further contribute to the writer's block. In some cases, writers may also feel guilty for not producing work that meets their own standards or the expectations of their audience or editors. This can lead to self-criticism and a fear of failure, which can further contribute to the writer's block.
Many famous writers have expressed feelings of guilt or self-doubt related to their writing. For example, Sylvia Plath famously struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt throughout her writing career. In her journals and letters, she frequently expressed guilt over not writing enough or not writing "well" enough. Similarly, Ernest Hemingway was known for his perfectionism and self-criticism, and he often suffered from writer's block and feelings of guilt when he was unable to produce the kind of writing he desired.
Other writers who have expressed feelings of guilt or self-doubt related to their writing include Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. These feelings can be common among writers of all levels and backgrounds, and can often be a result of the high expectations and pressure that writers place on themselves to produce meaningful and successful work.
What can writers do to overcome these feelings of guilt and get back to creating?
So, what can you do to overcome these feelings? Here are my strategies I'm sharing with you in hope it helps:
Recognize that guilt is a normal emotion, but that it doesn't have to control you. It's okay to take breaks or prioritize other aspects of your life, and to recognize that productivity and creativity are not the only measures of your worth or value as a person.
Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself, and avoid negative self-talk or self-judgment. Remember that creating or writing is a process, and that setbacks or obstacles are a natural part of that process.
Address underlying issues or challenges. If you are experiencing self-doubt, creative blocks, or other obstacles, seek out support from others or consider working with a therapist or coach to address these issues directly.
Set realistic goals and expectations. Instead of striving for perfection or an unattainable standard, set achievable goals that align with your values and priorities. This can help you stay motivated and focused, without feeling overwhelmed or guilty.
So, keep in mind that feeling guilty for not writing is a common experience among writers, and can be a barrier to productivity and fulfillment in the creative process. What's important for writers in such cases is to practice self-compassion, set realistic goals, connect with other writers, and take breaks to avoid burnout and overcome feelings of guilt. I created a Facebook group to gather us writers of transgressive fiction together to help each other. You can join it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/transgressivewriters