Maybe it’s a writer thing, or maybe it’s a neurodivergent thing… but one surprising revelation no one warns you about being an author is living in an eternal state of guilt.
What do I mean by that?
A lot of writers talk about procrastinating to avoid writing. I mean, a lot. It’s so common that it’s cliché, which is strange considering that writing is their passion. (Perhaps it’s their way of dealing with frequent writer’s block?) Or they struggle to focus on writing when the sink is full of dishes and the weeds have overtaken the garden and the house needs dusted and the laundry needs done and the clothes need folded and they really should have vacuumed days ago…
Interestingly, I seem to have the opposite problem. I’m aware of the chores piling up around me, but I prefer to procrastinate on doing those menial household tasks in favor of writing instead.
Writing is usually my source of procrastination. And that, I think, is a prime contributor to endless guilt.
When I’m not writing, I feel that I should be.
There’s a constant nag in the back of my mind reminding me that readers are anxiously (and vocally) waiting for the fourth book in my fantasy series. I should have my nose to the grindstone, tapping away on the keyboard. And yet, the weeding and dishes and dusting and laundry and vacuuming need to be done. Life can’t completely stop so I can focus on writing.
But now that I’ve officially built a career around writing books and creating content, I feel guilty when I’m not doing that. I’m constantly thinking about my endless to-do list for my business and planning out when I can fit writing time in between events, event planning, errands, and chores.
That means when I am finally sitting down to write, I should feel great, right?
When I’m writing, I feel as if I should be focusing on other business-related tasks instead.
Let’s forget about the general household chores for a second. Even if I’ve completed (or outright neglected) those, there’s a lot more to being an indie author than just writing the next novel. For me, that list includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Creating social media content for my official business pages/accounts
- Posting, liking, sharing, and commenting to stay relevant
- Searching online for possible regional events that fit my market niche
- Emailing event coordinators, collaborators, editors, and other professional contacts
- Filling out and mailing vendor applications
- Generating sales reports
- Keeping records of book sales, event revenue, sales tax, business expenses, etc.
- Writing blog posts
- Building the monthly newsletter
- Manually adding newsletter subscribers from events
- Producing behind-the-scenes Patreon videos, posts, and other types of content
- Drawing a new featured art piece every month (while also recording a timelapse video)
- Managing inventory
- Placing book orders
- Marketing the series
- Creating handmade products (necklaces, earrings, book prints, etc.) to sell at events
- Making new digital graphics, such as merch designs and custom emojis for the Discord server
- Creating the next book cover
- Editing, formatting, and print layout
- And the list goes on…
To be fair, my list is a lot longer than most indie authors’ because I’ve built my brand around not only my book series, but also my art. For that reason, I don’t outsource a lot of tasks that other authors do. I draw my own maps, create my own character sketches, design my own book covers, et cetera. 99% of other authors don’t handle all of that content creation on their own—they pay a freelancer or rely on an in-house professional hired by their publisher.
But this list is an even bigger nag on my subconscious than the chore list. THIS feels more like business work. It has tangible deadlines and deliverables. So, if I’m focusing on the fun part of my business where my passion truly lies, it doesn’t actually feel like I’m working.
I think part of this guilt can be traced back to my early days as a writer. It was a hobby. When I was writing the Chronicles of Avilésor series in college, I actually should have been studying for exams, writing papers, or sleeping so I’d be well-rested for class the next day. There was a built-in feeling of guilt that accompanied much of my writing time.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that this is actually my job now. My first novel was published over five years ago, and I’m still waiting for the feeling of validity to sink in. It’s not only okay to spend hours writing fantasy novels—it’s expected now. My head knows that. My heart is still figuring it out.
For now, it’s a lose-lose situation.
I feel guilty if I’m not writing, but I also feel guilty when I am because there are other tasks that I could and probably should be doing. This isn’t something I hear authors regularly discuss, so the perpetual state of guilt came as a surprise for me.
I like to think that it’s a sign of “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” A big part of the guilt comes from years of equating work with malcontent. Therefore, when I’m writing, it doesn’t feel like I’m working even though my brain is trying to remind me that I should be. I’m not used to working in those positive conditions.
I look forward to the days when I finally accept that this is my job, and I am working when I’m writing, and everything is good.
I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.
After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.
That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.
If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤