I’m a goal oriented kind of gal. Give me a mountain to climb, a river to ford, a meatloaf to make and I’m a happy camper. But unlike most of the ‘Rati, I don’t have externally set deadlines for my novels. Not yet.
Anything I do, good or bad, is self-imposed.
You’d think that this situation would be a lovely thing — to have the freedom to determine my own timeline — but I’m finding it an odd challenge. You see, my super-ego is in overdrive. No matter what else I do in the day — take care of my children, exercise so I’ll live long enough to see my kids grow up, cook, clean, spend time with my husband, garden — there’s always this voice telling me that I’m not doing enough to further my career.
Even when I sit at the computer and edit or write, that same damn voice screams for attention and most of its messages are negative. I wouldn’t mind if it helped inspire me or urged me to stretch creatively.
It destroys joy. It smashes fun into shards of guilt, cuts my feet until they’re bloody and makes a huge mess where there could be giddy adventure.
So what to do?
I suspect I’m not alone; I’m not the only writer with this conundrum. As a matter of fact, it might be one of the prerequisites of the job — with or without deadlines.
Lest you misread my words, I’m NOT talking about self-discipline here. I’ve got that out the wazoo. This is something far more insidious and potentially paralyzing.
And it takes more than just the pleasure away; it diminishes productivity.
I’ve tried daily writing goals and I’ve met them. The stupid voice still pounds in my ears. I’ve tried ignoring it or reasoning with it or visualizing myself free of it. I’ve tried shoving it out of my mind with positive affirmations: "I’m making progress." or "I did more than I thought I would today." Or "I am doing as much as I can."
But it’s like some kind of mutating computer virus that keeps adapting to whatever I throw in its path.
If I have to live with the damn thing, I will. I’ve done pretty well so far and have managed write a fair number of manuscripts, books, stories etc. But if there’s a way to put it in its place, to push a mute button, I’d sure like to know how.
So that’s my question for today: Do any of you, Dear Readers, experience this in your own writing or other professions? If so, tell me how you quell the tyranny of the should.