Forgiveness is something we all grapple with everyday. And, for the most part, we immediately relate to applying this when dealing with others.
But what about ourselves?
Are we able to apply forgiveness as easily when we gaze in the mirror?
How do we feel about the person looking back at us?
Are we content with what we see? Or do we feel regret or frustration over something that perhaps may not be as big as we perceive it to be. Things may become closer, distorted, the longer we focus and get blown out of proportion. You know, the side view mirror aspect of life.
Hate when that happens. Don’t you?
Periodically, I like to take an assessment of my goals and achievements. They say it’s a healthy thing to do. So I ponder over what I’ve accomplished and what adjustments may need to be made. I must say it’s not always easy. It’s not always glitter and glee. Not always does it take me to my happy place where I prefer to be.
Because I start to compare myself to others.
And that is one slippery slope my friends. Because everyone is different. Everyone works at a different pace. Everyone has different habits. What works for one person may not always work for another.
The other day I ran across an interesting article that really resonated with me.
“Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong,” written by author Daniel José Older. Until this post, I had never heard of Mr. Older, but he brought out some interesting points that I’d like to share with you.
He starts out with the mantra: Write every single day.
“It’s one of the most common pieces of writing advice and it’s wildly off base. I get it: The idea is to stay on your grind no matter what, don’t get discouraged, don’t slow down even when the muse isn’t cooperating and non-writing life tugs at your sleeve. In this convoluted, simplified version of the truly complex nature of creativity, missing a day is tantamount to giving up, the gateway drug to joining the masses of non-writing slouches.
Wait just a minute! *shakes head* What did he just say? Has this not been drummed into us since…well, I don’t know. Forever maybe?
I realize I may be approaching a dangerous precipice on this subject, but I thought his words were enlightening.
“Here’s what stops more people from writing than anything else: shame. That creeping, nagging sense of ‘should be,’ ‘should have been,’ and ‘if only I had…’ Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not.”
How did he know that?
I haven’t been writing every day. It’s impossible for me to write every day. It’s just not possible. And…don’t tell anyone this, but…I feel…guilty. Yes, I feel like a scumbag, despicable. Well, maybe not despicable. But I haven’t felt worthy of calling myself a writer.
Then Mr. Older adds, “Every writer has their rhythm. It seems basic, but clearly it must be said: There is no one way. Finding our path through the complex landscape of craft, process, and different versions of success is a deeply personal, often painful journey. It is a very real example of making the road by walking. Mentors and fellow travelers can point you towards new possibilities, challenge you and expand your imagination, but no one can tell you how to manage your writing process. I’ve been writing steadily since 2009 and I’m still figuring mine out. I probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s a growing, organic, frustrating, inspiring, messy adventure, and it’s all mine.”
Okay. Does this mean that I might be…normal?
“We read a lot about different writers’ eccentric processes – but what about those crucial moments before we put pen to paper? For me, writing always begins with self-forgiveness. I don’t sit down and rush headlong into the blank page. I make coffee. I put on a song I like. I drink the coffee, listen to the song. I don’t write. Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation. I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life.”
So, after reading the article, I took another look in the mirror. And guess what? I am now able to forgive myself. I can now forgive myself for not writing every single day. I can now forgive myself for not fitting into a certain mold.
Yes, having the intent of writing every day is a wonderful goal. And one that gives us great purpose.
Yet, I want to thank you Daniel José Older, whoever you are!
I think this may enable us to forgive ourselves for being unique!
I feel better already.
How about you?
So what do you think? Are you able to write every day? If so, please share with us what is it that has helped you to attain success? If not, how has this made you feel? Do you feel guilty? Or have you accepted your personal limitations and established new goals? What affect do you think your writing schedule has had on your productivity?
If you wish to read Mr. Older’s article in it’s entirety, please click here or on the link above.
Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Great post, Karen. I aim to write every day, Monday-Friday. But that doesn’t always happen. At the very least I try to do something writing related, even if I’m not putting words on the page. Today, for example, I’m doing a read-through of a first draft. It’s not words on the page, but it’s something.
I think everyone has their own writing routine. It can take a while to figure out that routine and like the post you referenced says, it’s always evolving. You have to do what works for you, and don’t feel guilty if your pace doesn’t match someone else’s. We have this tendency to compare ourselves, but the creative process differs for everyone.
I do need to learn to forgive myself when I don’t reach my goals. When the draft doesn’t seem strong enough, the word count doesn’t seem high enough, etc. Like many things in life, forgiveness is one thing I’m still learning.
Denise D. Young recently posted..“Setting Quiet Pages Free”: Round 3 ROW80 Wrap-Up
We all work at self-forgiveness Denise. Are we not the hardest on ourselves? You do very well and have an amazing drive when it comes to your writing that always inspires me. You are right. We tend to compare, yet we all differ in creativity. The important thing is to keep at it, keep trying, keep moving forward. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot. 🙂
I would so love to write every day. I really would, but it is just impossible sometimes. Karen this post is so very timely. And so very beautifully written. Kinda needed to hear it right about now. So thank you for that! 🙂
Funny thing, before I sit down at the keyboard I go through my own little ritual. Get some coffee, get some water, take the dogs out and sit in my garden for a few minutes. Be still and quiet in my head and wake up my characters. I visualize the scenes I’ll write and talk with my characters a bit. Then I’m ready to sit and type.
Serena Dracis recently posted..Paranormal? There’s An App For That!
Thank you so much Serena. I’m so glad this post was helpful. As you know, I always included myself when I write about this kind of stuff because I need the encouragement as much as anyone else. May I just say how much I love your ritual, how you talk to your characters. It is so important to prepare our mind and body in order to write at our best. And that takes a conscience effort to tap into our subconscious. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I used to feel guilty about not writing every day, but eventually I realized that was due to the “write every day” mantra and not to logical sense. We shouldn’t exercise every day because our bodies need rest. People who work at their job seven days are week are called workaholics and they burn out young. Some people can write every day. Some people can’t. Some people shouldn’t.
Marcy Kennedy recently posted..Creating an Author Business Plan: Professional Development
“Not to logical sense.” Marcy, you are incredible! Thank you so much for saying that. (You’ve been holding out on me girl. That’s okay. I forgive you.) Yes, yes, yes! Where is the logic? Workaholics is right my dear friend. Yet, if the muse is at work, go right ahead and write everyday. Who am I to stop you. But truly, I think a lot of writers struggle with this and it is causing too much stress. Thanks for sharing your personal feelings on this. It makes me feel so much better! ((Hugs)) 🙂
You just made me feel better about my writing routine than anyone ever! The heavens opened, the angels sang, and there was peace in my mind. Thank you. I always play catch-up, I should have written, better write more…etc. And the feeling guilty or shameful, oy! All the time. I really prefer to feel normal, so thank you again.
Oh my goodness Amy, you just validated my feelings for writing this post! I had no idea that others felt the same way I do. And here I’ve been basking in my own guilt! Yes, the guilt and shame, the pressure to catch-up, write more…Then I find you and others are stuck in the same place I am. Phooey on the write every day business. I am so glad I said something. This has been driving me crazy for a long time. I don’t know what I would do without the support of all of you and Marcy Kennedy, of course. The poor girl has her hands full trying to keep me together. You are so welcome Amy. We normal people need to stick together! ((Hugs)) 🙂
Amen. It is just not possible for me to write every single day either. And I am not the kind of person who can read, or write, for 10 minutes here and there and have anything make sense. If I can’t have at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, I won’t pick up a computer or a book to read. I know it sounds weird, but I can’t pop in and out of a story like that. I get lost and confused and end up having to re-read to find out what was going on.
So, amen to Mr. Older’s advice.
Thanks for sharing because I sometimes feel guilty as well for being away from my stories for so long, but that’s just the way it has to be. There is no right or wrong way to write.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Patricia recently posted..A Piece of the Black Pearl
Oh Patricia, bless your heart. I hear ya girl. I don’t know many who can write in small increments. Your creativity just gets rolling and then you have to shut it down? That’s insane! And of course you just moved too, so that hasn’t helped either. But I do understand your frustration. I am so glad that you were encouraged by this post. After I read Mr. Older’s article, I couldn’t wait to share it. I wanted others to feel relieved from the guilt I think most of us share. So keep doing your own thing Patricia. If it works, don’t fix it. ((Hugs)) 🙂
I’d love to write every day. And sometimes, for certain lengths of time, that works. But often it’s not feasible. A typical response would be to feel guilty, like a loser, a failure … and then I started to shift this thinking. You see, most of the time/days, I CAN physically find at least an hour to write. But some days, I don’t want to. When that happens, I can sometimes force it and it turns out find. Some days I force it and it turns out crap.
So now, I really try to connect ‘why’ I don’t feel like it. Is it because writing is hard work and I’m just procrastinating? If so, I force myself. Or, perhaps my muse just needs a mental break to play on her own and I can do other things that bring me joy. In those cases, I allow myself to read, or do whatever, and give the day to the muse and I get to play hookie guilt free!
Note: This system is a work in progress and I lie to myself all the time to justify my procrastination and perfectionism. Ah, the life of a writer! hee hee!
Miss ya, Karen!
Okay Ginger Calem, you are so not a loser or a failure! Far from it. And we’re done with the guilt around here. But, I understand what you’re saying. Iy, yi, yi, what we put ourselves through. The little games that we play with ourselves in order to outfox the muse. You’re so funny. Yes, we are all a work in progress. I think that will always be the case, don’t you? Now, if we can only figure out the balance. Thank you Ginger. Miss you too girl! 🙂
As I now live a “routine of no routine,” I am in complete agreement but like many, I came to it late. However, there has always been a bit of variation on a theme here. By that I mean that my day always feels complete when I have put down a few thoughts on any subject. Perhaps the best way to describe this is more than a grocery list and less than a draft. As Joan Didion says, “I write to find out what I am thinking,” and I do. Most of these bits and pieces have a place, ultimately, although they rarely resemble the original jotting. I have writing projects and a weekly blog deadline but no set routine in how I accomplish any of it. As some others have said when I quit pushing the writing, it flowed freely. Great post! Thanks, Karen.
KM Huber recently posted..Getting Hooked and Giving It Up
Karen, I have to say that I adore your “routine of no routine!” And I too came to writing a wee bit later than most. “…my day always feels complete when I have put down a few thoughts on any subject. Perhaps the best way to describe this is more than a grocery list and less than a draft.” That is an awesome description! There’s nothing wrong with working at your own pace, or what feels comfortable for you. So glad you figured this out. It can be maddening. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I and others too are so encouraged by you! 🙂
Writing every day because someone told us we have to is just plain silly. But I fell under that belief too, until one time many years ago, a successful, longtime pro writer presented at my RWA chapter, and said, “I don’t write every day.” Wow, was that a light bulb moment! If a pro like her didn’t have to write every day, why should I? Between job, family, and helping with my husband’s businesses, sometimes there’s just nothing left by the time I can fit the writing in. And that’s OK. The key is writing regularly–whatever that means to you. Letting go of the guilt opens the door to the writing being fun again.
Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..Friends, Fun, and new Fiction!
Oh wow, you too Jennette? I had no idea how common this thinking was. I would say that was certainly a “lightbulb moment.” See, like you, that’s been my problem. Too much going on in our life to write every, single day. “The key is writing regularly–whatever that means to you.” Excellent point my friend! I will take your personal experience to heart. Why write if there is no joy in it? Thank you so much! ((Hugs)) 🙂
I read the same article when I saw it the other day, Karen, and I have to say, I had the same reaction. Relief. For some reason it took this person, a complete stranger, to let me off the hook from my own shame and punishment for not following the ‘write every day’ rule.
Shame is a bugger and it’s insidious as hell. You might not even realize you feel it when you’re just chock full of it to the brim. You meaning you, me, everyone. We all go through that I think at some point and it’s really nice to be given the permission – not that we need it, but somehow I think we feel we need it – to just breathe and be okay, proud even, of where we are in this journey. Shame is useless and it destroys creativity.
Funny thing happened a few days after I read that. I started writing again. Nothing major. Just in my notebook. Morning pages again. Because I missed doing it. Because I felt called to it. Not because I felt ashamed that I hadn’t in weeks. That felt good.
Thanks for sharing this with everyone. I’m glad it helped you and it most definitely helped me. I hope it does the same for a lot of others as well. Hugs.
Kelly Byrne recently posted..PETA Doesn’t Stand For What You Think
You are so sweet Kelly! Isn’t that funny that you and I had the same reaction? And like you, I had no idea who this guy was? But his words, or should I say perspective, resonated with me. Wow, just wow. Yes, I get it. Why do we need permission? Is that really true? Or was it the fact that Mr. Older said how we felt…out loud? I have never been able to keep up with the daily writing. My chaotic life doesn’t allow me that privilege. As Prudence said earlier, that kind of pressure robs us of our creativity. Along with the shame as you and Mr. Older mentioned. So glad to hear that able you’re to write again. It may not be a lot, but it’s a start. Just write when you feel at peace with it and are able to free the muse. Hugs right back atcha girl! 🙂
Like you, I recently moved, and for almost two months, my available time and energy went to sorting, shifting, packing, dealing with repairs,, picking paint colors, and wondering if moving was worth the hassle. That’s my way of telling you I haven’t written a word, not even a blog post, in all that time. Like you, though, I’ve surfaced and am taking stock. There’s no single correct way to create a home, so why should there be one way to write?
Thanks for this post.
“There’s no single correct way to create a home, so why should there be one way to write?” Amen girlfriend! You got that right! Oh good grief Pat, that’s why we haven’t seen you around. I was wondering what had happened to you. Well, now I know. Just say the word move and I crumble into a thousand tiny pieces. It’s the pits. Don’t even think of writing. Not gonna happen my friend. I hope you and hubby are settle soon so that you can have you life back. Take stock all you want, but we missed you! 🙂
Wonderful post, Karen. I’ll confess, I rarely (yes, rarely) write more often than four times a week. When I do I get lots done, but I learned early (many, many, way too many years ago) that if I force myself to write every day, I turn out garbage. The fun goes out of it and it becomes drudgery. So, I read lots on the days when I don’t feel the love. On the days I wake up with a story in my head I have to be pried away from the keyboard. Moral of the story, and this is important, Guilt is a wasteful emotion” It steals your joy of life and, well, just plain sucks.
So, dear friend, eat the donut, drink the tea, and read the book until you’re ready. That’s when you’ll write the good stuff.
Prudence MacLeod recently posted..On With the Story
Prudence, you are Wonderwoman on the keyboard my friend. Your word count is phenomenal. I really appreciate your viewpoint. I too, when forced, sometimes, but not always, will put out garbage. And I have to say, the fun goes right out the window, along with the computer! I’m right there with you. When that happens, I read. And read, and read. I think we need to step back and replenish our well. Then we’re ready to pound on those keys again. Yet, the guilt. That’s why I enjoyed Mr. Older’s post to much. It helped me to let go and you just reenforced his perspective. Thanks again Pru! Ooh, this donut is so good. 🙂
My best writing — that is, the writing that pleases me most — comes when it comes. Writing every day, for some people, sparks the imagination. For others, like me, writing every day produces a lot of nonsense. Living life feeds my spirit, which in turn lights up my imagination. Still, I would challenge the notion, mentioned by Mr. Older, that we are writers because we write. Nonsense. Especially nowadays, when each one of us carries a writing machine oddly called a phone, tapping keys might qualify you as a communicator, but not everyone owns that ineffable quality we stumble to define. Thanks, Karen, for giving me breakfast food for thought.
Anthony V. Toscano recently posted..Don Rosario’s Parte Femminile
Me too Anthony. Writing comes when it comes. And yes, life/living sparks our imagination. Or, as in the case of life in general, can get in the way at times, depending on our own circumstance. Ha, ha, Anthony, yes, a phone does not an accomplished writer make. How true. So glad I could offer some food for thought. And at breakfast. What a way to start your day. I do try! 🙂
Whee. What a funny and obvious-but-new way to think about writing. Imagine. We’re all different. There are Isaac Asimov types who never go anywhere and write all the time. Not me. Not most people. Might just go forgive myself with a little cuppa Joe right/write this minute. Wonder if Mr. Older is a pen name, or if his forebears gave him a name to live up to? Cheers —
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Julia, I don’t know. His name does not seem pen-like. But I must say that he makes a lot of sense, common or non, however you wish to choose. As Yvette mentioned, it is a bit freeing to feel as though you’re not tied to a certain, structured schedule. So grab your cuppa, relax, enjoy the moment and write. That is if the muse strikes. Cheers right back atcha! 🙂
Yay, love this post, Karen! I’ve been following the lovely Mr. Older for a few years. I have some similarly gorgeous quotes of his sprinkled throughout my website. I agree with him wholeheartedly. Isn’t it wonderful when we are freed from previously limiting beliefs???
You keep on keeping on, keep on forgiving yourself first. I’m so glad to hear that. We’re so hard on ourselves, aren’t we?
Truly Yvette, that’s amazing. I have to ask myself why I have never heard of Mr. Older until now. I need to get out more. lol. And yes, you are so right. I do feel freed from a schedule that was unrealistic for me. Thanks girl for the encouragement. We are our worst enemy sometimes. ((Hugs)) 🙂