Guilt and Ulterior Motive

First, I want to get something off my chest.  I hate feeling guilty.  I especially hate making MYSELF feel guilty over something that’s stupid.

I’m talking about Vicki.  I was really making myself feel guilty because I wasn’t getting the progress that I wanted.  Any other month (e.g. look back at May, Nov, and Dec. last year) I could have written 50K no problemo.  Way back in 2007, I wrote 50K in 11 days. 

I used to worry about never finishing a book (I’m glad the 2005 archives are gone!!) but I know that I can and will finish.  I can file something and bring it out again later and finish it (e.g. Conn, Victor). Yet for weeks, I made myself open Vicki’s file, whispering the fear–the lie–that if I filed her, she’d die.  I’d never finish. 

I tortured myself with that fear.  Daily.

Writers write every day, right?  How many times have we heard that?  Typically, I’d even agree.  Write 1K a day and finish 3 books a year, I know I’ve said that many times before.

But there’s no need to flail myself with guilt when a book isn’t going the way I want.  I could have put the book aside in March and moved on, instead of forcing myself to keep stabbing away at its lifeless corpse, because that’s really what it felt like.

Don’t get me wrong – if Vicki had been contracted, I would have been stabbing MYSELF to finish.  But she’s not contracted.  I’ve made no commitments.  It was just a book for me (right now), a personal challenge.  So why beat myself up?

So, note to self and any of you that might flail yourself with guilt about writing:  If it’s not feeling good, don’t do it!  If you’re leaving scars on your Muse, put the @#&%* whip away!  

We pick up enough scars each and every day just by being writers.  Bad reviews, rejections, opening up the dark scary places and peeling back layer after layer to reveal the horror and truth within.  Don’t make that scarring worse by tormenting youself with “shoulds” and “but the rule is….” or “but everyone else…”

There.  I feel better.

Now then, what do I mean about ulterior motive?  I’m declaring April my personal brainstorming month.  I’m not going to set a single goal for writing or finishing a single project.  I’m going to brainstorm.  I’m going to write snippets of dreams and secrets that characters whisper to me.  I’m going to write in my journal.  I’m going to go picture hunting.  I’m going to watch movies and read more books and cross-stitch.  I may even draw pictures!  Gasp!

One thing I’m learning from the harder exercise program I started in March: listen to my body.  Or in this case, listen to my Muse.  Gregar has never failed me before.  I’ve worked him hard and long, for years, with only minimal breaks.  I already have THREE contracted stories coming out this year. 

Yes, but but…  the shrill, annoying voices start.  Keep the pipeline full!  What about next year?  If you stop now, you may never start again.  Quitter!  Failure! 

Now there’s a very good reason my Muse carries a wicked ivory rahke, because I just borrowed it to slit that nasty little demon’s throat.  My greatest strength is my drive and my determination to succeed at all cost.  But that drive can also be my greatest weakness.

I have to learn to listen, both to my body and my Muse, before something tears or simply breaks.

So I hereby declare April to be my fun month.  I’m going to try some new things, build some new ideas, and just generally have a good time.  I will not write hard on any single project — but if I get an idea for a short freebie, I may allow myself to finish it. 

My ulterior motive:  MayNoWriMo.  I’m hoping that with an “enforced” writing restriction this month — and lots of fun idea time — that May will be a huge output month.   I’m being sneaky with my Muse and telling him no writing this month.  Just laugh, tell jokes, be that wicked smirking Blood I love so well.  Because next month, he’d better be the vicious Shadowed Blood again.

May, June, and July will be finishing whatever project I settle on for MayNoWriMo.  Top contenders at this time:  Vicki, Deathright, and Maya#2 using the subplots I axed from the original Bloodgate story.

11 thoughts on “Guilt and Ulterior Motive

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Joely Sue Burkhart » Guilt and Ulterior Motive -- Topsy.com

  2. Good for you Joely! You move right along at an ass kicking pace 99% of the year. Give yourself a break! I’m excited about MayNoWriMo and hoping to really find my groove in my current project by then so that it’s also a big output month. 3 and a half more weeks to uncover the voices of my current hero and heroine.

  3. <<So, note to self and any of you that might flail yourself with guilt about writing: If it’s not feeling good, don’t do it! If you’re leaving scars on your Muse, put the @#&%* whip away!<<

    Yeah. Been there. Still there. Many {{huggs}}

  4. A “fun” April sounds like a great idea! And I have a tentative plan for MayNoWriMo as well, though my output will be more along the planning lines than the writing. Still, I look forward to it!

    Also: Vicki will get done. You may need a break from her, but we will not let her die. Never fear. :D

  5. That first sentence sounds so like me. :oops: It’s pretty bad when you can guilt trip you’re own self. It’s a bad habit I never learned to get out of. And like Kait said, you work hard all year round, I’m sure you could use the break.

    I think I will go by your example and use this month to prep from MayNoWriMo.

  6. Ugh. I’m a victim of terrible guilt like 90% of the time. Unfortunately, I don’t make the awesome progress you do. I wish I did. I’m a slow writer, I’ve got a toddler, a house to keep, and not enough time to do everything. Even knowing that realistically, I feel like a total failure most days. So I know what you mean. But I REALLY love that quote about leaving scars on the muse. That’s something I’ve never thought of. Thanks for the great words of encouragement, Joely.

  7. A-MEN!

    I don’t know how often I’ve heard that bit about “writers write EVERY DAY.” :roll: Gimme a break. For those of us who still hold down day jobs and more, some days it just isn’t going to happen. Family, work that pays the monthly bills… those things HAVE to take precedence sometimes. And sometimes you’re just so burnt out by it all that you mentally need a break. Writing isn’t going to happen then, either.

    I used to feel very guilty about not writing. And I still do on occasion — usually when I haven’t touched a WIP in weeks. But I find I get much better results if I just do what needs to be done, when it it needs to be done, and not worry about the rest.

    Awesome post, Joely. :)

  8. I’m excited about MayNoWriMo, too, Kait! here’s to a great month!!

    Many hugs to you too, Tambo. Guilt is an ugly thing to punish myself with.

    Nicole, thank you – I’ll hold you to it! Keep bugging me about Vicki!

    SJ, it’s an easy trap to fall into! Good luck planning for MayNoWriMo – I hope you can join us!

    Isabelle, hugs, I know what you mean. With kids, work, house, etc. it’s soooo easy to feel guilty. If I take time off to write – I feel guilty about the stuff I neglect. If I don’t take time to write, then I’m angry, and then feel guilty because I’m angry!

  9. Bless your heart, Sis. With everything you do, I think only taking a month off to have a little fun is heroic. I wish you could take a month off of everything and just kinda free-float for a while.

    It’s easy to tell you, “Hey, Sis, don’t guilt yourself”, but doing it would make me a total hypocrite. *snerk* I guilt myself all the darn time. I can’t tell you how many times over the past six months or so I’ve heard that little demon whisper “So what if you contracted for one book? You should’ve submitted two or three more by now, but nooooo. You don’t have any more finished that are in any kind of submittable form. LOSER!!”

    So, yeah. I feel your pain. And I’ll see you this weekend to hopefully hug it away! Eeee!

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