- I can write a draft of a book in 2 weeks, I should be able to write/publish more books
- I should be writing more on my blog
- I should be promoting my books to get more sales
- I should be entering competitions
- I should be writing for anthologies
- I should be...
The problem with these shoulds is that they creep up, slowly, silently. At first, I can knock them aside and tell them where to go, but over time, they increase and expand until they become overwhelming. Usually they hit me when life is particularly busy and crazy, leaving me with little time to think about them logically.
Instead of spurring me on to write more, I find these shoulds make me freeze and not write much at all! I will start writing a draft and not get past the third or fourth chapter. My blog comes to a complete standstill, I do nothing to promote my books, I don't enter competitions or write for anthologies. The shoulds get completely in the way of any writing tasks! These shoulds also have me questioning whether or not I'm a "real" writer.
These should also get in the way of my faith. I should be praying more, reading my Bible, should be able to write a Christian book... and so on.
When I can take a step back, I can acknowledge that I am a working, single Mum with two teenagers with chronic health conditions. I need to be kind to myself and, at time, go with the flow of periods of not writing. It's also at these times that I reach out to others to pray for me as I find it difficult to pray. And this doesn't make me any less of a writer, or a Christian.
Taking a step back may not send all the shoulds on their way immediately, but it does help. Often, it starts with ideas flowing again, which sends me to a notebook or computer to write them down. These ideas could be for blog posts, new books, current works in progress, competition entries, or any number of other things. I also find myself going back to simple prayers that were prayed when I was a child.
The shoulds are still there in the background. I haven't been able to get rid of them completely, but being realistic about my goals and my life helps a lot to keep them in the background, and keeps the words coming.