I forgive myself for not working on my novel very much this past week. Nothing big came up. You weren’t especially tired. The weather was nice. You didn’t die. You didn’t experience writer’s block. You had aspirations; you just didn’t live up to them.
It’s okay, I need someone else to tell me. Your book isn’t due next week, or ever. You’re not getting paid. Loosen up.
Unfortunately, what I’ve learned so far – and what I have yet to learn in a more serious, sad way – is that writing is a lonely activity. Just like no one is going to tell me to sit down and write, no one is going to tell me it’s okay if today I didn’t sit down and write.
But the gnawing feeling in my gut tells me it’s not okay. It tells me I am a horrible person, that I am not being productive, that I might as well be dead. I like that thing. I call it Motivation. Others spending time with me on days where I am supposed to but am not writing can call it other things.
I come from a family where people are always getting things done. My sister cruised through two BA’s and a Masters degree without ever having shown signs of doing homework. She did it all at one or two in the morning, on top of crafts she produced like out of an assembly line, scissors creaking through the wall as I fell asleep at night.
My mom has gone to fitness classes three times a week for the past twenty years. My dad does woodworking projects to perfection. No one’s handing anything in, but everything has to be perfect. Days are measured in productivity. No one is ever idle.
I know there are times when I will have to check myself: tell myself it’s okay to not have worked today. Luckily for me, I surround myself by people who aren’t crazy, and can hopefully say it for me: Oh, you’re acting like that because you didn’t write conversations between made-up people today?
Maybe writing is a solitary activity only to a certain point. Maybe I have to exist, a little bit, too.