Do not disturb

Recently, a friend said to me, “I don’t know how you do so many things!”

I smiled and shrugged, afraid to take any credit, because I knew how much I didn’t get done.

For example, today I was supposed to write 1000 words on my current novel, edit a previously written book, compile corrections from Beta readers for another book, work on a play I’m writing, submit pitches to a magazine, and write two blog posts.

I didn’t. I failed. Actually, I got started on a blog post and the Beta corrections, but the other things went undone. I’m guilty of under-achieving my goals.


Mark Twain at work

Why? Did I sit around and watch TV? Spend too much time on Facebook? Actually, no, you see, I have a life other than writing. I have a husband, a home, a grandson we’re raising, and church commitments, to name a few things that take my time. I stay busy.

So why do I feel guilty? Because I know there are other writers with just as much if not more things to do and they seem to get everything done. I know people that homeschool multiple children and still find time to write. I’d never be able to do that. There are writers that work full-time in another job, but still find time to write. When I worked full-time, I didn’t have any brain power or energy left for writing.

Some writers work all night or get up in the middle of the night or start before daybreak. Sorry, but I need my sleep or I don’t function at all.

Some people write more than 1000 words a day, raising the bar to 2,000 or more. Sometimes I do write more than 1000, other times I don’t.


Ernest Hemingway at work

So how do I deal with this guilt?

  • Balance – my word for last year. I have to balance my work and other responsibilities. For me that means my work must be done during the day when I would normally work a day job so I can be there for my family at other times. There are occasional exceptions when I work at night if I have a pressing deadline, but I keep those times to a minimum. Because writing is not my whole life, sometimes I have to step away from the computer and do something else.
  • I have to remember that most of a writer’s life and goals are self-imposed. There is no one standing over me, forcing me to do my job. And speaking of goals, these are my own. I need to know what goals are reasonable and attainable for me.
  • I have to quit comparing myself and my accomplishments to what others do or how they do it. My life is my life and not theirs. God has made me unique and placed me in a unique situation, not someone else’s.
  • I need to prioritize my work based on when it needs to be done. Much as I want to do it all in one day, some of it can wait.
  • I need to be thankful – for what I do accomplish. I may not do all I set out to do in one day, but I will keep working toward doing those things until they’re done. I also need to be thankful I have work to do. Plus I need to be thankful for my family and the other responsibilities I have.
  • I need to evaluate my other commitments to see if they’re important enough to keep or if I need to drop some.
  • I need to assess my guilty feelings to see if they’re warranted. Have I wasted time on something unproductive?
  • I need to do my best when I do work. Whether I accomplish a multitude of goals, what I do accomplish should be good work that pleases God. “Whatever you do,work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23

I may never lose my guilt, but I can embrace it as motivation to accomplish my goals without allowing the possible failure to achieve them each day put undue stress on me and my family.

What about you? Do you ever feel guilty when you don’t do as much as you want to do or as much as someone else does?