I Suffer From Creative Guilt: Why It’s Okay to Be Creative

Creative Guilt - Value What You Do“Why 4am?”

My early morning routine has been called into question several times, mostly by night owl friends. They can’t understand the compulsion to wake up bright and early to write, read or just fill my creative tank.

I get up early because no one else is up. I get up because no one is sending me emails or hijacking my agenda for their own needs. I get up because my muse works best when the world is asleep.

All true.

However, the real reason I get up early is because I suffer from creative guilt.

Writer’s block is when you sit down to put words on paper and can’t. Creative guilt is when you want to write, are writing in your head — but you can’t take the time to do it for you feel there has to be something more important, more worthwhile to do than write.

I will carve out time in the afternoon or a lazy Saturday only to choke when it comes down to actually writing. Thoughts fill my mind regarding the things I “should” be doing or that “need” to be done.

“Bathroom is a disaster.”

“I should spend time with the hubster.”

“The laundry needs to be done.”

This past week, I wanted to take a day to be creative. To write. To read. Fill my creative tank. I blocked out my Tuesday. On Monday afternoon, I received a request from a person to rent my vacation unit. The email in my inbox meant that I would not have a Tuesday to myself. In fact, it meant I was going to have to prep the suite for the arrival of my guest.

It was in my power to say no. It was up to me to protect my time. I did neither. Instead, I took the rental request and stayed up late Monday making the necessary arrangements to free up my Tuesday. In short, I felt I pulled overtime to show myself that I deserve a day to myself.

I have to reach some imaginary zone where I feel it is okay for me to have creative time. That I deserved it.

Would I feel different if there was a project deadline? If I was being paid for it? If it was being shown in a gallery? Or is this feeling strictly because the time, energy and end result is for me? As sad as it may seem, it is the last one.

Throw in the towel. Don’t write.

It’s not that easy to ignore the gnawing feeling that starts to eat your insides. Writing is how I explore my world, how I relate to new input. I start counting down the days since my last blog post or the last time I saved my novel. My fingers start aching, my thoughts consume me and I become irritable. I need to get back to what I love doing — what I value.

Hence the 4am wake-up call.

I think the bigger lesson here is that regardless of the worth the outside world can put on how I spend my time, I need to see the value in my creative time. I need to know that just writing words is how I soothe my soul, my inner muse. I need to protect the time that makes me sane.

No apologies.

I have to go. I have something to do. Something that has been put on the back burner. Something that needs to take front and center.

Happy Creating!
— Weegee

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