It’s impossible to make something from nothing.
I spend a lot of time feeling guilty for things. It’s one of my flaws, and like many flaws it can also be a strength. It’s good to know what your impacts on others are, and it’s good to try to mediate those impacts as you are able. To me this is the function of guilt. I can tell when it is likely that I’m hurting someone else. Of course, guilt can easily snowball and warp my perceptions of harm, too.
One of the things I often feel guilty about, and one of the things I am working on NOT feeling guilty about, is writing. If you’ve never tried to balance a time intensive creative hobby with a full-time job and other fun life obligations, you may not be familiar with this particular texture of guilt. It’s sort of like gray bubblegum. It sticks to everything and you don’t get any lovely fruity flavors to justify the chewing. Specifically, what I feel guilty about is not creating enough – not being productive enough, not writing enough, etc, etc. My brain, on bad days, believes it doesn’t have the right to rest.
But sometimes you need rest. I came across this post from Kameron Hurley the other day, who is a grumpy, lovely self-care guru, even when she is falling off that self-care wagon. She’s just really honest and upfront, and a lot of times her tweets help clarify things that I was struggling with without really understanding why. This one is a good example.
One of the things I try to do now is to take a rest day every week. That’s a day when I’m not writing, not doing writing admin, and not doing dayjob stuff. I have mixed success with this effort, but I’ve noticed that on the weeks where I don’t take that time I am far less productive in all aspects of my life. It will come out in the wash somewhere, is what I’m saying. Either I take my day off, or I end up with the focus of a squirrel on a nut farm.
This is frustrating, if I think too much about productivity. I told someone recently that it felt like I used to be a rabbit and now I’m a turtle, but if you’ll remember the turtle won the race. It’s okay to work at your own pace. We don’t have to be productive all the time. Racing and racing forward is a good way to court burnout, and there are times in your life where it is definitely required. But when you can afford to take it slow, be kind to yourself.
If you can’t be kind to yourself, who else is going to look out for you?