Hey everyone, I want to talk about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
As members of the online writing community, we’re surrounded daily and constantly by the accomplishments of other writers. This is for the most part fantastic. We get to support each other, and I love seeing that a writer I follow has finished their book, published a story, that their funny writing meme is going viral, or even small things like that they wrote a chapter, or paragraph, or even sentence they love. I love seeing the fanart, the words of support, the friendships, the memes. Oh, the memes. I really do love this community and all it has done and has the possibility to do for aspiring writers.
However, when you’re in a community, there’s an inherent pressure that comes along with that, and that is the pressure to be productive. I feel this is especially strong in the writing community because so much of what we talk about is productivity. How to improve it, the importance of it, the importance of self-discipline, and ambition, and pushing yourself to reach your goals.
It’s lovely to see your friends and people you follow having success, but it also plants that worry in your mind: Am I dropping the ball? Am I not working hard enough? Am I a total fraud and failure because I binged a show on netflix instead of writing for the past week? Do I ever deserve success?
In this community, we talk about productivity a lot. We talk about how you should push yourself through a bout of writers block rather than letting it hold you back, how you shouldn’t let self doubt grab hold of your ankle and keep you from stepping towards your goals, how with a well planned outline and set of goals you can power through that draft in no time.
And that’s great. I love being productive. I love helping other people be productive. I love it that we’re a community of people who loves to create, and it makes me feel great to be creating.
However, I want to introduce a new mantra to this community, one that I feel needs to co-exist with all the mantras about productivity, and that is be kind to yourself.
So yes, you’re not feeling too motivated right now and you didn’t write for a week. It’s okay.
So yes, you’re experiencing writers block, and no, you didn’t make an outline, but that’s okay. That’s just your process. It’s okay to work how you like to work even if most writers say it’s a bad idea.
So yes, you don’t like what you wrote, and even though you know you can fix it while you’re editing, it’s okay to feel discouraged right now. Allow yourself to have emotional reactions to your work.
So yes, you fell behind on your goals, didn’t finish that book, fell out of love with the idea and abandoned it, didn’t win NaNoWriMo, and haven’t written in two weeks. It’s okay. You’re not a machine.
So yes, you’re discouraged. That’s normal. You’re not a failure because you can’t meet the standard of productivity we’ve created in this community because here’s the thing, few can. I can’t consistently or for long periods of time, I burn out. That’s normal.
This whole productivity-obsessed, if-you’re-not-pushing-yourself-to-reach-your-goals-in-every-way-possible-you’re-not-doing-your-dreams-justice, step-up-your-game mindset is not healthy for a lot of people.
The standard this community is setting is ridiculously high for most people within it to reach–many of who are young, new writers, just trying to explore the craft and learn, and yet are being met with this immense pressure in order to be taken seriously, and many of who are students, have jobs, have other reasons why they can’t be writing machines, or are simply new writers who aren’t ready to produce at that output yet. We shouldn’t be creating this communal pressure to create create create or you’re not good enough.
Allow yourself to take breaks.
Allow yourself to pants a project if you want.
Allow yourself to have emotional ups and downs in relation to your art because that is normal.
Be kind to yourself. You’re not a failure.