Feeling Guilty About Wanting to be a Writer

“We gather our arms full of guilt as though it were precious stuff. It must be that we want it that way.”

The above quote is by John Steinbeck and it struck me as being very insightful.  I’ve been experiencing a lot of guilt lately over my desire to be a writer and yet I won’t stop doing it.  My guilt stems from the fact that I am not making any money from writing and that I shouldn’t be spending my days doing something that doesn’t help to pay the bills.

A quick Google search has informed me that I am not alone in this feeling which has helped alleviate the guilt a little.  In a world where the human goal is to get a secure job with a good salary and pension, etc it’s very easy to feel that you’re just not contributing anything worthwhile when you’re pursuing a career based on creativity, one that doesn’t offer any of the above immediately.

I’m very lucky in that I have a partner who is very supportive and would rather that I was doing something that makes me happy than seeing me miserable every day in a job that I hate (which is exactly what I was).  I’m very grateful for this but sometimes it only serves to fan those nasty guilt flames, especially when we hit a five week month and money is very tight.

Here are some things I’ve realised and need to keep in mind whenever I doubt myself:

  • No job is secure these days.  It’s true.  In this time of recession and redundancy pursuing something you’ve always wanted to do seems like a more appealing option every day.
  • Life isn’t just about making money.  This is hard to emphasise when the rent is due and you’ve got a “Fight Club” fridge (ie just condiments cluttering the shelves) but staying true to what you want to achieve is vital.  I know people who are working just for the money and are miserable.  I also know people who have taken a risk and are doing something they enjoy without a huge payoff (though one of my friends has actually been quite successful with her business so she is testament to what can be achieved).  
  • Feeling guilty and full of self-doubt can actually be constructive.  It might not seem that way at first, especially if you’re so crippled by these feelings that you can’t seem to get going.  But you can turn those fragmented shards of negativity into something whole and positive.  It’s your drive, your motivation.  What better way to prove to yourself (and everyone else) that this is all worth it than by doing your best?  You’ve taken the time to produce something creatively so make it count.

After recounting these facts and reading some incredibly inspiring blogs/articles, I feel better about myself.  I think I’m ready to do some writing.