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How to stop feeling guilty about writing

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Last week I spoke about how writers sometimes feel guilty about their writing, and the reasons behind it. I also promised that I would go away and think up some practical solutions for my readers, so that they aren’t caught in a downward spiral of guilt driven writing. There’s a couple of ideas below that explain how to stop feeling guilty about writing.

Why guilt driven writing isn’t great

If you’re writing because you feel you should, rather than because you want to, your writing will suffer. You’ll start to hate the keyboard. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also hate the story that you wanted to tell. You’ll associate the feeling of guilt and being forced to write. Remember, writing should be fun!

I’ve thought about my post last week and I’ve created some ways to get past the two problems I identified:

  • Other people
  • Legacy

How to stop other people’s success bothering you

You could just turn off social media and ignore your emails until you love writing again. That’s probably not going to be a realistic option for most people though. It’s called social media for a reason – it’s fun to be social on there.

A successful team

A successful team – I love the face on the woman on the far left. She has no idea why she’s there.

The challenge here is to start to look inwards, not out. Look back. How much writing did you manage last year? How many books did you create, or how many pages of manuscript did you write and edit? That is your baseline. Not what a random internet persona with different challenges and different targets. Think about what you can write around the routines and the pressures in your life (have a look here about writing around the day job, not in conflict with it).

Try not to look at your finished works, either. What did you do to prepare for the books you were writing on? How many times did you redraft something? That all counts! So don’t worry about the amount of writing you finished, think about the writing that actually did.

Once you have a ‘natural’ base you can look at your writing for the coming year and plan accordingly. This means you’ll have a much more natural target based on what’s possible for you.


Last week I said that people are worried about the legacy that they will leave. That they will never finish their big work and therefore be a wasted talent.

The advice here is similar to that above. Put simply, you need to stop worrying about the end product! You will leave behind a great legacy, regardless of whether you finish your current book. The finished product is important, but as I mentioned above, being a writer is about more than that. It’s about the very act of creation, the work that goes in to polishing that stone to a fine shine. Your legacy, whatever happens, will be of someone who enjoyed writing, who told stories, and had fun doing it.

I hope this helps you re-frame how you’re thinking about your writing. You should be enjoying it. If you have anything thoughts, I’d be happy to hear them.

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The image on this page is from Unsplash. Just like every other bit of stock footage on the internet at the moment.

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