Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writer Guilt?

Do you ever get writer guilt? Specifically, do you ever feel guilty that you (probably) spend a huge amount of time not only writing but blogging, tweeting, fb-ing, reading in your genre, reading about writing, reading other blogs about writing ( and agenting, editing, publishing, etc.)

In a nutshell--Do you ever (assuming you're not yet paid to do all those above things) feel guilty pursuing this thing you love?

I do.

Now if you're someone who has come to writing later in life (i.e., retirement from day job, kids are grown and fully functioning adults, spouse plays 80 hours of golf/week) I would think the guilt would either be significantly less and maybe even non existent.

But what about when you're still in the middle of all that? Just starting your day job career, raising little kids, being married to someone who only wishes they had 8 free hours a week (never mind 80.) There is limited time, always. And yet, you feel driven, compelled even to still pursue this part of your life.

For me, it sometimes feels selfish. It feels selfish to have so much going on but I still always carve out time for this. It is a priority for me and sometimes (especially during the school year) that means getting up at 4 in order to make sure it happens.

Still, I don't put writing first. When the kids are up, regardless of where I am, the computer closes. I try to make sure I spend some time talking or watching a movie with the Husband at least a few nights a week. It's never perfect but what balancing act is? You lean a bit this way and then, oh, agent sent revision notes, so you lean back and over the other way. Daughter is sick and wants her mom and you shift your weight back to the other side. Always the balance and you do your best to stay on the rope.

But here's the thing. One day, I picked my kids up from school and my daughter came running out of the building beaming. She asked me, "Mom how many books have you written?"

"I'm working on my third."

"I told my class today that you have three jobs, you're a school psychologist, a mom and a writer. Can I have three jobs when I grow up?"

"Absolutely. And if you're lucky like me, none of them will feel like jobs (well, sometimes they will but you can't say that to a 2nd grader.) You'll be happy to do all three as much as you can." 

But still, I do have guilt.


  1. I totally have this guilt. Every day. I am a reasonably well-compensated professional, so it's difficult to justify not throwing all my time into seeing clients/doing my job. However, I justify it with this: I doubt I'd be as effective if I did that. But yes, I know what you're talking about!

  2. Oh, yes. It's probably made worse by being female, since we tend to do guilt really well. It's definitely a balancing act. Gotta make sure the troops are taken care of and then take care of us. But by the same virtue, we have to fill our own vessels or there's nothing for us to give them.


  3. So true..I'm still trying to figure out a routine that works.

  4. It is so hard. Especially at this point in my life, when I'm not published, nor do I even have an agent ... it feels often like sheer self-indulgence, but if I didn't write, something in me would wither up and die. So I endure the guilt because I know I would, in fact, be a worse wife and mommy if I didn't take the time to focus on my writing!

  5. Nope... I need to spend more time writing, but sometimes I do feel lost or lonely. But never sad or guilt about the time I spend writing.
    That might change one day, when I have to write to meet a schedule or deadline.

  6. I definitely feel this way sometimes.

    I love what your daughter said about having three jobs, she sounds so cute!

  7. I came to writing after retirement and the guilt might be even worse, why didn't I start earlier? Why did I Waste all those years not writing. Not much time left so shouldn't I make the most of it and stay at my computer? But, gosh, I remind myself, I'm retired, shouldn't I be able to enjoy doing retirement things?
    I guess at any time of life there's going to be guilt--as I visit new blogs and leave comments instead of working on my WIP...

  8. I think the guilt is completely normal. I'm always feeling guilt now that I've reached my thirties. I can't say I felt the same in my early 20's. I listen to the voice shaking its finger at me for having too much fun, tell myself it helps inspire me to write and move on. Granted the moving on part usually involves a lot of encouragement.

    Besides, a diverse background just makes you more interesting.

  9. My kids are outta the nest now, but yeah, when I wrote (and got into obsessed phases) during their elementary school years, I felt guilty. I even quit writing for 10 years when I turned into a single mom partly cuz of that guilt. Fiddled with artwork instead. Now I don't have to struggle with the guilt so much. I try to keep my relationships a priority, however!