I tried something different, and I took a hiatus from social media and blogging for an entire week. Family and friends were equal parts shocked and amused. Why would I do that when they know I love it so much?
I was experiencing some variation of writer guilt for a few weeks: I was hardly inching along with my own writing, I wasn’t reading, and I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere with blogging and marketing. I felt like I really should be doing more, even though my weekly schedule is always full to the brim. I decided to cut out social media for a week to see if I could actually bunker down and get some work done, and maybe get out of this slump.
Before my hiatus, I was just frustrated with the overall types of advice I was finding on Pinterest on how to be a better blogger; it seemed like repeated reminders that I wasn’t up to my full potential. Instead I went into a spiral of, am I actually personable? Do people like me? Why am I even doing all of this?
So I decided to read about it, but otherwise focus solely on my writing—editing to be more accurate. I grounded myself from using my social media apps and prepared for a long week.
I got a batch of edits from a good friend of mine and spent my extra time this past week working on these edits and totally blazed through 365 pages of Track Change requests. That felt really good! I feel like I’m back in my novel and I’m making immense progress towards a shiny and sparkly manuscript.Other things I did? I went to the gym more often, started a freelance editing project, and read some books.
So, I only cut out social media because it’s become a time-sucker for me; it’s what happens when you follow a lot of interesting people, right? I wouldn’t say that I’ll be off social media forever, but it was eye-opening. Social media by itself isn’t the cause of my writer guilt, but it was taking my time away from the things I wanted to work on. It was preventing me from applying solutions.
Overall, here are some basic truths that I learned last week that I plan on using to keep myself grounded and avoid this mess again:
Patience. I’m not really patient in many aspects of my life, so this is hard for me. You and I have to be patient that whatever seeds we sow in relation to our hobbies or goals, they will sprout into something if we diligently nourish it. I have to keep reminding myself that the people who have really good advice or seem to have an easier time with promoting have already paid the price (literally) for their training, blog layout, and time. Most of the people I admire in the writing community work part-time or full-time as bloggers to actually use all these tips.
Moderation. There are so many Freebies, workshops, and challenges to sign up for, and individually—they’re all fabulous. But try all of them at once and you won’t internalize anything you’re learning. Just like exercise, writing and blogging tips work for specific people who try them regularly or moderately. So I’ve made this huge list, but I will narrow it down to a manageable amount of work and start small. I won’t come out guns blazing, but I will add to my arsenal bit by bit until I feel comfortable and confident.
Confidence. The writer guilt started with me, but it ends with me, too. A lot of times we think that we’re the only ones struggling with schedules, other facets of our lives, or having enough confidence in our own abilities to write and publish someday. I’ve started collecting blog posts where writers open up about their struggles because it reminds me that it’s normal to have guilt, embarrassment, frustration, and depression. I want you to know that I try to be as honest as possible in my posts; I don’t pretend to have it all or know it all, but I do share what I’ve learned from my mistakes and my setbacks so maybe someone else won’t have to—or they won’t go into it all alone.
Before closing, I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve seen in the past few weeks that helped turn my attitude around.
If you are interested in improving your author platform, I highly recommend looking up some of these sources:
- Build a Better Blog Challenge via Bridgid Gallagher. This challenge is set up as a workshop with very specific tips on how to spruce up your author website and all of your social media. This by far is the most specific set of insight I’ve seen in my efforts to learn more about social media tactics. This is free, yet priceless!
- How to Grow an Amazing Fiction Readership: Breaking Down the Basics via She’s Novel. If you want further insight specifically for fiction writers on using your social media to become a better part of the writing community and thus get a higher readership/following.
- 50 Blog Post Ideas for Writers via Bridgid Gallagher. If you’re stuck on what to write about on your blog, you’re bound to find a bunch of useful post ideas here. Many of them are even ideas for reoccurring posts.
- Write Boss via She’s Novel. This is a fairly new workshop that focuses on helping writers create a writing and publishing goal. If you need extra drive to think seriously about your future writing goals and thus get you more serious about writing, sign up!
- Why Aren’t You Getting Comments on Your Book Blog? via Paper Fury. A delightful and specific set of advice focusing on increasing comments and interaction within your posts.
- Author Brands: Which Type of Influencer Are You? via Carly Watters. This literary agent helps you narrow down the purpose of your blog so you can decide what you’re really using it for and thus know more about how you can improve your brand.
If you want to know more about how you can connect with other writers and gain more support and encouragement, then definitely check out these fabulous bloggers:
- #StorySocial via She’s Novel and Blots & Plots. Every Wednesday evening, writers get together and tweet about questions about writing, blogging, and publishing. It’s insanely fun and a fast way to connect with other writers.
- Five Ways to Hang onto Motivation via Kate M Colby. This is somewhat similar to what I’ve written here, but it’s great to get perspective from more than one writer. She’s awesome!
- Your Write Dream via She’s Novel. This is a Facebook community for writers. Members are allowed to promote themselves (on certain threads) and otherwise ask any questions that come to mind.
- Writing Like a Mother via writing at the table. If you would describe yourself as “busy” or if you’re a parent, you gotta read this post. #writelikeamother
- Five Ways to Find a Writing Community via Blots & Plots. If you want to be a part of more communities or know how to stick with one, here’s a good article about where to start.
- How to Deal With Writer Guilt via BlondeWriteMore. More about writer guilt and other ways to think yourself out of this corner.
- Why it’s Time to Stop Hiding Behind Imposter Syndrome via Wit&Travesty. Another article from us! Just in case you needed further proof that we’re both in the trenches with you.
This post will likely be as much for me as for you, just because I know writer guilt or burnout isn’t something that happens once. This is a reminder for me and anyone else who experiences ups and downs that we need to give ourselves a break—we need perspective of what’s going well for us and what we should really do to improve. Just do what works for you, and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m pretty sure that what I have here is just the start. What has helped you through writer guilt or burnout? If you have some helpful resources or anecdotes of your own, I would love to see them. Otherwise, please share this post with those who might be wallowing in writer guilt.
6 comments on “How I Overcame Writer Guilt & How You Can, Too”
This is excellent. Now you’ve got me thinking…
Thinking about what? ;P
Aaaaah, this post is an amazing resource, Whitney! Adding it to my Pinterest scheduler right now. 😀
Guilt is such a potent problem for so many writers (myself included); I’m so glad you chose to address it. I have different ways of dealing with it, depending on what’s causing the guilt/burnout, and I’ve gone into detail about them in several (okay, more than a few) blog posts. If you don’t mind, I’ll drop the links here rather than reiterate everything in a novel-length comment:
Thank you for sharing this post on the Write Dream community! I love finding awesome new sources for writing wisdom.
Thanks for reading and sharing some tips of your own! Sometimes it’s just good to know that someone out there understands and it’s not just me that has bumps and slumps. Let’s work together to stay away from the pitfalls! 🙂
These are some great tips – thanks for sharing! Sometimes taking a breather from all the “extra” writer tasks is the best thing to do for your writing, and it sounds like you accomplished a lot. Way to go! I did the same, though unofficially, this week to finish up May’s nonfiction booklet. Now it’s time to play catch-up with the Instagram challenge.
And thank you for linking to my post! I’m glad you found it helpful, and I hope others do, too!
Phew, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I guess scheduling life is a matter of reestablishing priorities each week so nothing is ignored. Also, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog and see what you have to say. 😀 Good luck with the rest of the Instagram challenge! I don’t know if I’ll be catching up, but maybe do some of my more favorite ones.