It’s hard to confess to others when you’re just not writing. It’s even harder when you have to confess it to yourself. (Point to note, I have been writing, I have been editing, but I have also been feeling guilty for those hours in the day when I haven’t been doing either of those things).
I suspect that this might just be me, or people like me, who struggle with this confession. And by people like me, I mean those of us who like to metaphorically self-flagellate, who feel guilt for no apparent reason, who pile pressure upon ourselves because, you know, life would be far, far too easy otherwise.
Also, I’m a workaholic. I have an addiction.
My lovely, patient partner pointed this out to me not so long ago, by sharing an article with me that she had read. She let me read it, absorb it, allowed the reality to sink in and then, very kindly, but firmly, said that she recognised these traits in me. I had no other choice but to agree.
Work addiction is hard, just like any other addiction. Don’t get me wrong, I can relax (kinda), but it’s always tempered by that vague feeling that unless I am actually achieving something with that relaxation (other forms of creativity, learning something, reading something, exercising and so on), I feel like I have wasted my time. Yes, I can binge-watch The Queen’s Gambit like anyone else (wasn’t that fantastic?!), but the undercurrent of ‘you should be…’ or ‘you ought to be…’ is always there. Coupled with anxiety, which is also a struggle of mine and voila, welcome to my frenetic world.
Add to the mix that I am working through editing Anti-Virus and the ‘should’ and ‘ought’ are amplified by an image of my protagonist, Callie, waiting at the place I last left her, arms folded with an eyebrow raised so high it makes my forehead hurt. She’s a member of the Security Services and whilst her life isn’t what it used to be when she was undercover back in the day, she’s a tough character. I don’t want to piss her off. The struggle is real, people.
One way I manage my addiction is by being very strict with myself. I know from experience that if I am not, things (the various aspects of the addiction) run away with me. So I set myself a specific time limit. I am going to write/edit between X o’clock and Y o’clock. Then I will go out for a walk. Then I will make my lunch. Then I will… you get the picture. It doesn’t stop the guilt for not continually writing, but it does mean I manage my mental health. I know what I am like at full pelt, giving into the nagging demon, the little liar that creates this false guilt, and it’s quite ugly, both for me and for my nearest and dearest.
In the fine tradition of twelve step groups, let me introduce myself. My name is Freya, and I’m a workaholic. But I haven’t got time to talk to you about it now because I just need to do this one thing first…