Drop the Writer’s Guilt

Writing while under stress may cause more stress. Don’t spend energy on guilt for not writing. In this blog post I talk about why giving yourself permission to not write is helpful in alleviating the guilt and what you can do with your writer-self so that you can make a bigger and better writing comeback—without the guilt!

Drop the writer's guilt | Kate Johnston | Writing Coach | Editor

I want to talk to you about writer’s guilt. This seems to be a prevalent emotion cropping up lately. The pressure our real-world selves are under due to Covid-19 is impacting our writer selves.

This is a temporary situation. Our dreams are not on hold forever. But the landscape surrounding us can certainly feel like if we don’t figure things out soon (NOW), then we’ll be in a world of trouble, even worse than what we’re experiencing currently.

Unfortunately, this kind of stress can negatively affect our writing. Maybe the ideas stop coming. Maybe we don’t know how to switch gears from work or family to creativity. Maybe we can’t focus. Maybe we’re feeling that creating in the midst of turmoil seems silly or selfish.


It’s okay if you don’t write at this time of uncertainty. But it’s imperative you do it by your CHOICE and not because of guilt. If you allow guilt (or any of its brethren) to direct your actions, then you’re walking into a worse situation. Resentment, anger, disappointment, frustration, irritation—all invite bad mojo into your creative life.


Put the writing aside for the short-term and turn your attention to work and/or family, or whatever it is that is occupying the majority of your mental energy. Reassure yourself this is just until you can get some things in order. Always know that even though you aren’t actively writing, your Muse is still cultivating ideas. As long as you maintain a connection to IDEAS and INSPIRATION, then your creativity will not flounder. It will flourish.

An easy way to maintain that connection is to keep track of any ideas your Must delivers to you during your hiatus. You’re not committing to anything, but by acknowledging the inspiration you’re giving your Muse a social-distancing-style high five.

It’s helpful to set a specific deadline (write it in your calendar) for when you are returning to your creativity. And stick to it! If you don’t, you’re breaking a pledge to yourself. That’s never a good thing. So, no matter what is going on with your business, life, relationships–honor the deadline and come back to your writing.


We’re living in wonky times right now. It’s temporary. The schedules and responsibilities and tasks facing us currently will shift again, just like they shifted when Covid-19 struck. While we’re in fluctuation, we can explore our writer selves and learn more about how we operate and under what conditions we operate best. This way we’ll be prepared once the quarantine is lifted to put everything we learn about ourselves into action.


There are internal and external forces at work for all of us, and they either benefit your creativity and productivity, or they impede them–Natural Writing Forces.

They determine what time of day you prefer to write. If you finish your projects. Whether you turn to Facebook when the writing isn’t going well. If you let fear stand in your way.

If you feel guilty for not writing.

Tapping into your Natural Writing Forces will help you learn what aspects of your writer and real-world selves are beneficial to your creative process. Likewise, you’ll learn about what doesn’t serve you. From this point you can create a new routine, a new practice, or a new writing sanctuary. Here is an opportunity to reassess your priorities, redefine yourself, and to shine your light where you need most growth.

Drop the writer’s guilt. Give yourself permission to not write if the writing is just not flowing to you right now. You’re better off putting the writing to the side than forcing it, which will only stir up another kind of angst.

By releasing the pressure to write under extreme stress and anxiety, you open up space to evaluate your circumstances and manifest more confidence and joy and creativity. Your writing will make a bigger and better comeback because you’ve surrendered the outcome, you’ve allowed yourself the freedom and permission to chill out, remain calm, and breathe.

Writing is just around the corner.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s guilt from not writing? How do you combat it?

2 thoughts on “Drop the Writer’s Guilt”

  1. Hi Kate. I have no guilt. Nor, like many of my writing friends, any interest in working on my latest book. I do find myself writing short articles of thought, and lots of ideas in my journal, but just not inclination to elaborate on those ideas. I do predict when the dust begins to settle after this global crisis, many of us will have plenty more to write about.
    Stay safe and wear a mask when out!! 🙂

    • Hey there, Debbie! I love that. Anything to stimulate our creativity is beneficial, and it isn’t important how we go about it. I agree with you that reflection at this time serves us just as well as any other kind of writing. Stay safe yourself! 🙂


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