Creativity · Writing

Writer’s Guilt

Confession time – I feel guilty when I have some free time and don’t spend it writing. It’s strange because I love to write, I need to write, but there are some moments when I simply want to unplug my brain and do something else. Usually, it’s something unproductive, like play a game on my PC, kick back and listen to some vinyl over headphones, maybe sit on the back porch and watch my dogs chase squirrels while sipping a potent potable. I consider it decompression time. Between working a full-time tech job, taking care of a house, aquariums, garden (vegetable and carnivorous plants), and – last but not least – working on my short stories and a second draft of my novel – I feel I deserve to unwind.

But when I do I always end up with this voice in the back of my mind reminding me, “you could be writing.”

Yep, even if I just spent two hours working on a draft, finally sit down with a cold drink and load up a game, that voice inevitably chimes in with its maddening reminder. I’m not sure where it comes from. I mean, is it my conscience? My muse? Some remnant of guilt from my Catholic upbringing? It’s a soft voice, barely a whisper, but it’s still strong enough to cut through the music in my ears or the dogs barking at the foot of a nearby tree.

I’ve tried to ignore it, but it’s a persistent bugger. The only thing I can do to silence it is to give it what it wants. So I hold off as long as I can, but finally I’ll give in. I always give in. Back to the table, open the MacBook, find something to work on and get back to writing.

The thing is, I’m not sure if I should be annoyed by the voice or thank it for keeping me on task. As long as I’m still churning out words, I guess I should be happy, but I also know that I need a recharge every so often. Maybe that’s what sleep is for. That’s my downtime. As long as I’m awake and have free time, my brain (or conscience, or muse) wants me to write.

Of course, when I sleep I dream, and my dreams are often about my stories. Methinks there’s no escape.

RB

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