Friday, July 04, 2008

The Guilt Syndrome

Happy Fourth of July! What are you up to this weekend?

I have to write a ton. I'm looking forward to it.

But last night I sat down and made up a schedule for today. The reason is that I tend to get stuck working. I end up with no time for reading, no time to sit on the porch or to go to a movie or watch a TV show.

And when I do one of those things, I feel SO very guilty. Which is silly, because you need to read to be a writer! It's not like reading is slacking off!

So I scheduled in two hours to read. I'm really looking forward to it; it kind of feels like I scheduled in two hours at the toy store and I'm forcing myself to buy toys for two hours.

Hardship.

So I'm really looking forward to that.

When you work for yourself, the work is never done. Never, ever, ever. When I worked at a 9 to 5 job (for a whole 5 months, so I'm an expert), I always got everything done by about noon. (I was really fast. The person for me did half what I did and never got done.) Now if the internet had been available, if flash drives and stuff had been available, then it would have been the perfect job: I could have written from 12 - 5 and gotten paid for it!

Hmmm... maybe I should see if they're looking. I didn't think of that. :-)

My favorite part was going home every night with my desk clear and everything done.

I have not figured out how to replicate that feeling of "leaving work" and "finishing for the day" at home.

The problem is, when I'm NOT done, I feel guilty for kicking back and watching a TV show or reading a book.

So how do you do it? How do you shut off the writing work and feel like you're done? How do you finish for the day? How do you get that satisfied "finished" feeling when you're never, ever, finished, not for thirteen years???

21 bonus scribbles:

LaDonna 7/04/2008 10:03:00 AM  

Spy, I know exactly what you're saying here. I worked at the library once, and was never "done". I worked the circulation desk, and I'd empty the book bin and process books, do my inter-library loans, wait on the public and a half hour before I left, the bin would be over-filled again and the next gal coming up would continue the cycle. While fun, I couldn't get over the unfinished feeling. Writing at home can feel the same way, but you just have to avoid that at all cost. If I get pages done, I try and not feel guilty about t.v. or book time. As writers, both of those spark ideas. Heck, I've gotten inspiration from the history, bio, and travel channels.

I know I'll crank it up in the fall again, full-speed ahead, but for now I'm cutting myself some slack. Summers are busy in my world, and they inspire me. LOL.

Mark Terry 7/04/2008 11:01:00 AM  

Honey, I don't! That's part of the problem.

Robin 7/04/2008 11:06:00 AM  

I feel guilty about everything, so I try to take a nap and forget about it.

eric-mayer 7/04/2008 12:12:00 PM  

When you mention not being able to replicate the feeling of leaving work you really descibe a problem I have with working at home. Today I'll be writing an article for a legal encyclopedia. And probably tonight as well. When I get into the middle of a project there never seems to be any reason to stop. So I end up not reading, as you say, or doing anything else. Sometimes it works out because by working long hours and finishig a legal piece quickly I then have a block of time for fiction writing. Whether that's really efficient, I don't know. I suspect it'd be better for my fiction writing to do some every day. The problem is pyschological I guess. I worked 9 to 5 for long enough that I need that clock to tell me - work's over idiot. Now do something you want to do!

Edie 7/04/2008 07:32:00 PM  

I've been pushing myself for a few weeks, and this week something snapped. I'm still writing every day, but the last few days I'm been slacking off. Next Friday my sister is coming, so I probably won't get back to full writing mode until after she leaves. But I refuse to feel guilty! Sometimes we need the time off.

Aimless Writer 7/04/2008 08:14:00 PM  

That is hard! But I think about what I've done and not what still remains.
Have a happy weekend!

writtenwyrdd 7/04/2008 08:33:00 PM  

I agree, reading is never a waste. But I also feel a bit guilty. Perhaps I should, because I read more than I write lately. Tsk, tsk.

I work a job where we have to sit around and wait for customers. I actually could write if I didn't have a coworker yapping at me all day. Makes me want my college job back: working in the booth of an all night gas station for midnight shifts.

Maybe you can solve the getting done dilemma by setting clear hours for "off" and "on"??

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:07:00 PM  

LaDonna, I hate that! I've been trying to avoid that feeling, but it's to the point I even work in bed, with my laptop, before I go to sleep! Now that's insanity!

You're right. We need downtime to give the mind time to do its creativity, and TV and reading are an important part of refilling the well.

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:07:00 PM  

Mark, when I was writing this, I thought if anyone had the answers, it would be you. At least I was hoping. :-)

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:08:00 PM  

Robin, I did that the other day, and then felt even more guilty! Gotta get some birthday cake...

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:10:00 PM  

Eric, I wish, wish, wish, I could get into the mode of "going home" after work. I remember going home and having hobbies, not giving work a single thought until the next day. It probably helped that we weren't such an internet society then, so it wasn't like I could get work emails at home, too.

When I was home for the day, I was home. I just did house things and fun things. I got a lot of reading done.

I miss that.

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:12:00 PM  

Edie, I go up and down, too. I'm either trickling out the numbers, or I'm busting my eh-hem. I think I prefer the up and down of that over burning myself out, or driving myself crazy by just trickling for weeks on end.

The frustrating thing is, is that it takes me just as long to trickle things out when I'm in that slow mode, as it does to write a ton when I'm in high gear. It's crazy!

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:12:00 PM  

LOL, Aimless. We fret, and you point out the obvious we're missing:

"I think about what I've done and not what still remains."

That's kind of zen. :-)

spyscribbler 7/04/2008 09:15:00 PM  

WW, that would help. My writing computer crashed, as did my work desktop. So now I just use one laptop, and the lines between work, writing, and play is non-existent.

I think you're right, though. I have to tell myself I'm not ALLOWED to write after a certain time.

Then I have to work on teaching myself to obey myself!

Bernita 7/05/2008 04:50:00 AM  

Have to get rid of that mental camp guard.
I have minor goals ( finish this scene/chapter, check for this/ that,etc. then give myself a reward.
The thing is not to be come a slave to your will power.

Erica Orloff 7/05/2008 09:18:00 AM  

Spy:
This is one of the biggest problems I have to tackle in my life. Between writing and four kids, and managing a household, I am never "done," and having a home office means it's always there waiting for me to work. When I knit, I feel guilty instead of being in the moment and enjoying my hobby, etc.

E

spyscribbler 7/05/2008 03:02:00 PM  

Bernita, amen to that. Yesterday I gave myself writing times, where I had to completely focus but could not write at the end of the time.

That sorta helped.

spyscribbler 7/05/2008 03:04:00 PM  

Erica, I understand that feeling. One should at least be able to knit guilt-free!

Maybe it would help if the house was clean. I don't know. It'd be good to look around at the end of the day, and feel like one doesn't have to worry about anything until tomorrow.

Karen Olson 7/05/2008 03:26:00 PM  

I set a page count. I've been writing five pages a day. When I finish that fifth page, I stop for the day. Okay, sometimes when I'm on a roll, I keep going but it's not much more than a couple extra pages.

Speaking of which, I have to get back. I think I'm only within five to 10 pages of finishing this first draft. Oh, and my tattoo artist mystery has a title! THE MISSING INK. What do you think?

spyscribbler 7/05/2008 03:29:00 PM  

Oh, that's clever, Karen! It really fits the series. What a great idea for a series, btw!

Loreth Anne White 7/05/2008 07:40:00 PM  

You've nailed a problem I've been grappling with of late .. both the reading/guilt thing, and the inability to say the day is done.

I'm trying to think of reading as part of work now, and scheduling it into my day as something I can cross of my to-do list at day's end.

The other thing that seems to be helping is to make my work-day list the night before (and to keep it realistic -- including page counts, promo, whatever) then when I cross off the tasks I have assigned myself, by the end of the day I do feel like it's a wrap. It really is helping ... to a degree. But sheesh, it takes discipline working from home, and keeping all the bits in separate mental compartments.

Just a small knock sends all the pieces scattering ...