Writer’s Guilt

February 4, 2011

I’ve been taking a break from my novel lately. Partly, this is because I had the flu for a week. And partly, this is because we…um…(facial tick happening) we…uh…(eyes are darting around nervously) we really just needed a break.

Alright. You got me. I’m lying!

I’m not taking a break! I’m avoiding the damn thing! I’m running away. I’m In Hiding. I’ve put on my camouflage, I’m ducking and covering and sneaking past the computer on tip toe, shushing everybody: Be Quiet! Don’t wake it up!

And for that I am suffering a serious bout of Writer’s Guilt. Uhg.

Come on. You know that feeling. The I-am-supposed-to-be-writing-but-instead-think-organizing-my-socks-is-infinitely-more-interesting-and-its-not-just-so-my-hands-can-be-busy-while-I–mediate-on-my-plot-problems sort of feeling.

It’s avoidance, pure and simple.

Every writer knows deep inside when they need to take a break from their writing (to let the ideas settle, to gain perspective, to mull things over) and when they are out and out procrastinating.

Why? That is the question to answer. I know I love my characters. I know I love the process of creation. I know I want to finish it. I just can’t seem to get near it right now without feeling like a skittish filly.

Why? Perhaps I’m intimidated by how much work I have left to do. Perhaps my Inner Critic is overly active right now and I’m feeling sensitive.

Still, I need to jump back in. I need to re-read where I’ve been, get back in the vibe, maybe do a bit of free flow writing, just play and let the ideas come, the writing equivalent of jazz.

The remedy? Face my fears, I guess. JUST DO IT.

And I will. I promise. Maybe once this episode of Murdock Mysteries is over…

Oops. Nope. I better take care of this now.

My novel is barking at me. I better let it back in the house.

PS. Writers,  how do you overcome Writer’s Guilt?


  1. Very carefully?

    It’s difficult. It really is. The only thing you can do is keep on fighting.


    • Yes. This is where persistance, determination…. stubbornness comes in! Gotta just sit down and do it.

      Thanks for dropping by Wayne!


      • Love reading your stuff – it gives me the push to keep on going, when I’m struggling through thick snow, up to my neck.


  2. Great post ~ know exactly how you feel. I think you’re right – you have to JUST DO IT. Once I do, it’s not so bad and I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. The hard part is making yourself sit down and write…which I’m going to do in a minute…

    • Yes, I have experienced that too, realizing its not so bad once I actually get into it. Just got to get past the hurdle of starting…Just gotta make yourself do it, as you say!

      Thanks for dropping by Ursula!
      Julie J.

  3. I’ve heard alcohol helps.

    But on the serious, I hate Writer’s Guilt. Usually I’m a horrible cheater: if I haven’t had inspiration on my novel or story after a couple of days, I start working on something else. It’s gotten so bad at times that my faithful writing friend and co-beta reader has made several cracks about getting a shotgun to kill any plot bunnies that wander across the yard.

    At one point, though, you unfortunately have to tell yourself “enough is enough, self.” Apply butt to seat, fingers to keyboard and if necessary, forehead to keyboard, too. The first step is getting one word down, and then the next…and then the next…

    • Yes, that is a good idea! (I mean about writing about something else, not about drinking alcohol!) The point is to get the writing juices flowing, just get over the hump of NOT WRITING!

      Thanks for dropping by Frea!
      Julie J.

  4. Hi Julie,
    I can relate. It took me over a decade to finish my novel, which I finally published last year (When the Getting Was Good) Here’s a piece of advice that helped me: Write too fast. I would just sit down and as you say let it flow for 15, 30, 60, even 90 minutes, whatever I could manage on a particular day. I didn’t stop to polish paragraphs (always a huge temptation for me). I just kept going. I usually found I could keep a lot of it, maybe up to 75%, when I went back to re-read the next day. And I didn’t clean the house, do the dishes, take a shower, before I’d done those minutes.

    Finally, please finish your novel because I’d like to read it. Will you illustrate it with your cartoons?

    Best of luck,
    Susan Bell

    • Thanks for this great advice! It is taking me a loooong time to finish my novel and part of it is because I do exactly as you mention here: I have to polish everything as I go! I usually write for a bit, then edit, write for a bit, then edit. And I can’t go onto the next scene until I’ve tinkered enough with the one I’m currently on. Very cautious and methodical. AND SLOW!

      I like your idea and am going to try just blazing through a section, see where it takes me.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! And thanks for dropping by!

      (And congrats on getting your novel finished and published! That’s great!)

      Julie J.

  5. I don’t think I deal with guilt very well. And I’ve taken a long break from my manuscript. You know what? It helps. When I’m frustrated by revision, I have to step away for a little bit.

    Hopefully you enjoyed your mini break. Now get back to work!

    • Thanks for dropping by Julie! I am now back to work! 🙂

      Julie J.

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