Writer’s Guilt

Part confession, part encouragement

Writing is one of the most important things in my life. Using it as a creative outlet has kept me alive through some of my darkest moments. Now, in my adulthood, groceries need to be bought and bills need to be paid. Between a full-time job which keeps me fed and housed, but hardly enables me to grow financially, trying to balance my work and personal life, and an increasingly volatile external world, I find myself frequently and repeatedly caught in this vicious cycle:

Fall into a habit of going to work and coming home feeling discouraged and defeated by the day

Exhaustion and depression inhibit my inclination to write/be creative

I feel guilty/depressed about my lack of creative output

I fill my time with mindless activities and unproductive pursuits to soothe my guilt

Rinse and repeat.

I know I am not alone in this whirlpool of distress, as many of my peers have described a similar feeling of powerlessness to pursue their passions.

I’ve switched jobs since starting this piece, still paying the bills with phlebotomy, but through a different employer. While I’m definitely less depressed in my new work environment, I still have a deep longing to do something more creative with my life. Obviously, I’ve failed pretty catastrophically in my goal of publishing 2 Medium pieces a month this year; this is my first one since January. I know it falls to me to do the work to get myself into a position where I’m making money to do what I enjoy.

This is not a cry for help, rather a letter of encouragement, both to my future self and to anyone out there who feels similarly.

Just because you’ve fallen off with your creative outlet doesn’t make you any less of an artist.

Even though you’ve been too depressed to pick up a pen or a paintbrush, or open your laptop, your creativity is still alive inside of you.

Whether you have been publishing regularly or haven’t published in years, your work is still worth putting out into the world.

Writing, or any creative pursuit, takes effort. It’s not unthinkable that having your labor milked for every cent it’s worth, day-in and day-out, could drain you of energy to expend on creativity. Don’t feel guilty; get angry, get outraged, let that built-up frustration fuel your efforts. You have more to offer the world than what you get paid to do. You exist for more than just making money and paying bills.

Rediscover what makes you passionate, what makes your hairs stand on end, what excites your inner child, and try to dedicate a set amount of time every week toward it. Even just one hour a week is better than allowing your enthusiasm for life and wonderment to atrophy. I am going to do much better in 2022, and I hope you do as well.

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Alexander Wilson

Alexander Wilson

A 27-year-old Grand Rapids guy who writes about linguistics, philosophy, comedy, sexuality, life stories, religion, spirituality, and being a new dad.