Tough on myself

Today was a day of working on the book. I’m pretty sure I clocked in over 6,000 words. Yesterday was a little lighter with only about 3k. Tomorrow I have deadlines for paid assignments and last night I felt a little bit blocked because I kept thinking about those deadlines and how I should probably be working on them instead of writing the book.

I always feel a little bit guilty with my time, especially if someone else is offering to pay me for it. It’s hard to remember that writing the book is working on my dream, and writing the paid assignments is what pays my ex-wife and lawyers. Which is always a joy.

Anyway, today was a 6k day. Not the 10k day I had a few days ago, but I’m covering ground. I’m closing in on the end of the book. But in the process I am beating the hell out of myself. Tonight, even though I am exhausted, emotionally and mentally, from writing the book, I am pissed off at myself that I couldn’t eke out just a little bit more.

Tomorrow is paid post day, and that will likely mean that I won’t be able to work on the book. So, I’ll feel guilty about that too. Just like I felt guilty today about working on the book and not writing posts that have deadlines coming up.

The work on the book tonight was not easy. The chapters were daring me to wave off and instead go to bed early, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to touch them tomorrow. I’m glad I got them written, but they were challenging. It’s hard leaving a little bit of your soul on the page like that. It takes a lot out of you.

One of my worst qualities is how tough on myself I am.

The other is selling myself short.

I’ve been debating for a while about the purpose this book will even serve. Why am I writing it? My excuse lately has been that the story demands that I tell it. But otherwise, I wonder what the point is. And even based on how things are going in the world, the end depends on things not being too much different than they are today. Since it takes place in almost ten years.

What will the world look like?

I have a feeling is uneasiness the way that writers faced the challenges of writing about NYC and mentioning sunset on the World Trade Center towers in 2010. A friend of mine told me that readers might think it is quaint to be so optimistic that the world wouldn’t have been through WW3 by the end of the book.

This book could be like a story that was written during the 1940s and never once mentions World War Two. I guess the Bogart and Bacall movie “The Big Sleep” kinda did that. Honestly, as much as I liked the film, the plot made no sense.

Maybe that will happen with this book too. The plot will make no sense. Oh well. I wrote today. That’s really all I wanted to do. Tomorrow will be writing for pay, doing dishes and laundry, and pretending like everything isn’t a complete mess.

What I do know is that people believe in me, for whatever reason. And I believe in this story, even though nobody else knows much about it. I’ve only shared a few chapters of it with others and they are polite with their feedback, but if they saw what this first draft has become, they might be wondering what the hell it is I’m doing with my life.

I wonder the same thing myself. Honestly.

5 thoughts on “Tough on myself

  1. WordPress randomly showed me your post this morning, and since it feels like something I would have written, I have to comment: same. I treat my unpaid novel writing like a job. Always have. Dedicated to it. Diligent at it. Highly driven. I will leave other things undone to work on it, then feel guilt for not attending to them, but feel guilt for not writing my book, while attending to other things. I don’t know why I am so compelled in this way, because it doesn’t give me much back. It’s hard work for not a lot of sales. Thousands of hours of mental work for little returns, except the joy of creation. I wish I could treat it more casually, but I can’t.

    Regarding beating yourself up or pushing yourself too hard — I struggle with that too. I used to write a chapter a day before the pandemic, roughly 7,000 words at a stretch. I would come off them mentally exhausted but happy to have reached my goal. But since the pandemic, and the depression it has wrought, I find myself slowing down. Managing 3,000-4,000 words a day instead. Feeling frustrated by it, angry at myself, but too exhausted to do more.

    I am learning balance. I read a book recently that says if you push yourself, what you turn out after a certain period of time is substandard to when you just work on something in a fresh mental state. So that utter exhaustion you and I feel from forcing ourselves to write another 3,000 words is not only ten times harder than if we waited until tomorrow, it’s likely not as “good.” It’s draining. The book said to achieve maximum efficiency, you have to quit before you are exhausted of good ideas, not force them. So I have been forcing myself (ha, ha) to do this over the last few days. Instead of binge-writing 5,000 words and then being totally drained and unable and unwilling to write the next day, I tell myself: I will do no less than X and no more than Y (I will write no less than one character POV for this chapter, and no more than two). Even when I got to the end of those two sections and “wanted” to do more (again: felt “compelled” – like a Border Collie with OCD tendencies), I forced myself to shut off the computer and quit. It’s only been about two weeks, but so far my book is getting written just as fast (I “can” do at least one section a day), I am not nearly as drained when I stop doing it (which lets me do other stuff, that I get paid for from home), and the ideas seem to be coming easier.

    It’s something you might think about trying — moderation rather than compulsion.

      • It’s also sometimes helpful to remember that our insanely high word count demands are considered insane to some people. I know a lot of writers, since I work as an editor, and a few of them will virtually smack me if I complain about doing a “mere” 3,000 words, since that’s what they achieve in a week. 😛

      • There is that! Though sometimes I have days where I feel lucky to hit 200 words. Granted I’m usually in a procrastination/self-destruction downward spiral or on too much social media at that time. haha

      • I think it’s very hard to learn to achieve balance in life, but the sad fact is, if you do too much, you will experience burnout and be unable to write.

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