How To Survive The Guilt From Not Writing #Writer

‘I should be at home writing…

This post is aimed at those writers who, like me, suffer with guilt from not writing.

This is how things go:

You set aside a morning or an afternoon to write. Everyone in your house agrees to go out so you can write in peace.

Prior to this great session you imagine yourself working through a couple of chapters of your draft novel and staggering away at the end feeling amazing.

Ten minutes into your writing time and you are distracted by a conversation about writer motivation on Twitter, quickly followed by a strong urge to search Amazon for a new pretty phone cover, a new notebook, a scented candle and some early Xmas gifts for distant relatives.

A few hours later and your writing time ends. Your scented candle is arriving in three days, your new phone cover is being shipped and your tweet about writing motivation has been re-tweeted over 20 times. You stare gloomily at your laptop – you haven’t written anything. You wasted your writing time. Cue a special form of guilt which is like no other!

Things to expect when you experience guilt from not doing any writing:

  • You will feel ashamed and struggle to look your laptop in the eye.
  • There will be no escape from this mental torture.
  • You will grimace at Twitter when other writers are tweeting about how many words they wrote whilst you were….deliberating about the colour of your new notebook.
  • Your writer demons will come out in force, telling you ‘real’ writers don’t waste valuable writing time buying scented candles online, whilst tweeting about how motivated they feel. No! They do the writing work. Therefore you cannot be a real writer.
  • Loved ones will add to your misery by saying helpful stuff like “I guess you won’t be finishing your novel this year!” and “how hard can it be to just sit and write for a few hours?”

Before you know it you feel like crap.

When you start out as a fresh faced newbie writer wasting writing time is actually quite enjoyable. You happily lie on the sofa, working your way through a Netflix box set, shoving Oreos into your mouth and telling yourself that procrastinating is an important writer skill. Yes!

Things change when you make a serious commitment to your writing. You make a promise to yourself about chasing down those writing dreams. I don’t know why but once you make a commitment wasting your writing time becomes painful.

But here’s the thing – wasting writing time can feel so pleasurable and so naughty!  Why do the fun things in life have to make you feel naughty eh? With wasting writing time, you STILL do it even if you know that come the evening you are going to be lying foetal on the carpet by your writing desk, sobbing. This writing lark can be so frustrating.

Here are some useful ways of surviving this horrid guilt trip:

  1. I know it sounds crazy but you might have needed some rest and relaxation. You might find you return to your writing firing on all four cylinders of Writer Fuel, sniffing the aroma of your scented candle and hammering out 3000 words. This has NEVER happened to me but I like to reassure myself with it.
  2. There is normally a writing related reason as to why you have not done any writing It’s normally a sign of Writer’s Block. Assess where you are with your draft and hunt out that reason why you chose to do anything but write today.
  3. It’s time to have a stern word with yourself. Face up to the fact you wasted valuable writing time and accept responsibility. You didn’t need a new phone case, those relatives who you hardly see did not need Xmas presents and you didn’t need a scented candle. A cheap can of air freshener with a floral scent will suffice.
  4. Write down how awful you feel and save it for when you next get the chance to write. If you find yourself casting an eye over Twitter or casually glancing at Amazon, whip out what you wrote. Relive the guilt. I guarantee you will be back to your writing in no time.
  5. Punish yourself by not going to the pub on Friday night. Instead stay in and write. Tell yourself you can only do nice stuff once your writing session has taken place.
  6. Remind yourself of your writing goals for the year.
  7. Promise yourself the next time you write all distractions are taken away. Turn off all social media distractions and tell yourself all distant relatives will be bought thought-provoking Christmas presents nearer the time.

To all those writers who are out there struggling with this – I feel your pain!

Have a great day!


Posted by

Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When she’s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews ❤️

27 thoughts on “How To Survive The Guilt From Not Writing #Writer

  1. You’re right, the guilt is terrible! I’m daunted by the idea of sitting down for several hours writing, so I tend to start with just 20 minutes. Once I’ve done that, keeping going is much easier.

  2. I seem to get more done when I have less time, yet complain all the time that I don’t have enough time and the things I could do if I had uninterrupted time! We writers are such creatures of contradiction, aren’t we?

  3. I’m with Ritu… we don’t get enough time to write, let alone feel guilty when we don’t. Kick that guilt into the corner, it’s just another brick in the wall!

    1. Here’s a whole bank holiday Monday and I have nothing to write! I feel miserable, useless and irritable because there are things that need doing and I don’t want to do them.
      I seem to be waiting for something but I don’t know what. Maybe if I just get off the computer it will become clearer.
      Thanks for the blog. We are not alone!

      1. Hey Julie, I have horrid writer’s block so I also feel miserable and useless. Hope my literary constipation clears soon and you find something to write 😊

      2. When I get days like that, I take myself out to my garden and walk around, just looking at the way Nature copes with everything. It always changes my mood for the better…

  4. It may sound selfish, but I am glad there are other people feeling just like me today. When I taught piano, I would feel guilty when I wasn’t preparing lessons. And guess what time-wasting thing I would be doing instead? I used to write stories – and the writing would flow like sweet honey. If only I could convince myself I SHOULDN’T be writing today, I just might be able to write something. Why is the human mind so chronically contrary?

  5. I’m usually good about keeping my procrastination centered around actual writing/authorly stuff when I’ve actually set aside specific time for writing, but then I’ll start dabbling on a mock-up of a cover for a book I haven’t yet written and look up to see that hours are gone. Sigh…

  6. I may have to blog about this article, because I have lately given myself the opposite advice, and life is much sweeter as a result.

  7. Oh lord yes! Writers (non) writing guilt, I get it all the time, particularly for the blog, wanders off to find a packet of Jaffa cakes & make tea

    You make it sound glamorous lol!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.