Summer brings trips to the beach, family get-togethers, fun in the sun . . . and guilt for writers who don’t write the way they “should.”
How many recent blog posts have you read that begin with a version of “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while,” or “I’m struggling with writer’s block on my WIP”? It happens to everyone at some point, but the summer sun seems to put a spotlight on those guilty feelings. (My apologies to my friends in the southern hemisphere for being either six months too early or six months too late with this post!)
I’ve read some excellent posts recently about accepting and overcoming the guilt we’ve all felt at one time or another. Here are a few excerpts from my favorite blogs:
Dave Pagan (According to Dave): “I’ve struggled with [guilt] for so long I’ve very nearly giving up writing altogether. And it’s been relentless, beating me down until I barely have the motivation to lift my fingers to the keyboard.”
Victoria Grefer (Creative Writing with the Crimson League): “Writer’s guilt is knowing you write well, but feeling that you’re selfish, idealistic, and irresponsible for writing when you could be doing something more profitable and practical with your time.”
Cat Lumb (The Struggle to Be a Writer That Writes): “I think my lethargy has come from focusing too much on one goal; to finish my novel. I haven’t written any other form of fiction in a long while.”
Alex Kennedy (Fiction Writing for Teens and Adults): “I guess all I am saying is “Am I wasting my time doing this?” Should I be keeping my work for my dream job as a creative writer or the hope for a literary agent to scope me out and sell my work to a TV network? Is that what I want? Probably… But as a human, I don’t really know what I want.”
Kimberly Harding (Soulhealingart.com): “There is a part of me that wants to dig into this hesitancy. I want to question- am I tired? do I feel too off-center to create? Am I bored? What is going on?And my inner artist, ever the observer, simply says, “You think too much. I just want to take a break.”
Wise words all. But I think I know the perfect antidote to writer’s block:
A Summer Mini-Vacation
I don’t mean the two weeks you spend with your in-laws while you stress about all the work that will be awaiting your return to your day job as well as the word count you can almost see flying out the window.
Nope. I mean a honest-to-goodness getaway.
I speak from experience because my sweetie surprised me for my birthday and whisked me away for a four-day mini-vacation to Bimini, The Bahamas.
As people who are younger than I am like to say, “SQUEEEEE!!!”
I even took my laptop with me so I could stay connected through social media, post photos for my family and friends, and get a little work done on my “down time.” But a terrible thing happened: the resort’s wifi was slow when it worked, which wasn’t very often.
I was unplugged. And it was WONDERFUL.
We had an incredible few days of swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, eating, sleeping, relaxing . . . vacationing! Four days of basically no work.
Did I feel guilty?
I did the first day. Not by the fourth, though. 🙂
And when I returned, I was amazed at how invigorated I was to get to work, how the words just seemed to flow, and how energized I felt.
Apparently, I’m not the only person who needed a vacation. Brooke Warner of Warner Coaching wrote on her Facebook page, “Okay, back from vacation. Wow, how amazing to totally unplug. Note to self: do that more often!!”
Sara Weston (How to Be Happy Now) wrote, “The mind is so much more quiet and unconcerned with the goings-on of the world when released from the tyranny of the Internet :–).”
And your vacation doesn’t even have to be “away” as long as you are. Polysyllabic Profundities wrote, “I am in a very zen state right now. I’ve just come back from having a Hot Stone Massage and the tension that used to ride shotgun on my shoulders has dissipated to nothingness. . . . I have a writing deadline looming, but I cannot conjure the idioms that are required to complete the task. And the most glorious thing is – at this precise moment I don’t care.”
So my words of advice to all you writer’s-block-suffering bloggers reading this post is to get away from the “shoulds” of writing, even if only for just a few days or even a few hours. You’ll be amazed how rejuvenating a little break can be!
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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.