Dear I Have Notes,

I recently left my legal career of nearly 12 years to pursue my writing. Things began decently enough, but slowly backslid into a general apathy and laziness that I can’t seem to snap out of. Without the tensions of responsibility and the tightness of scheduled time, I am simply floating through my days. My writing has all but stopped. My guilt and shame have increased tenfold. During the later years of my law career, I worked freelance and handled my own schedule, workload, and clientele, so I expected I would use similar skills in writing. But things just haven’t translated for me. How do you balance the distractions and fantasies we can so easily drift off into and focus on the work? How do you hold yourself accountable when there is no punishment or consequence if you don’t? I have started my novel; I feel passion and interest in it each time I work on it, and I lose myself in the project. But I cannot get myself to the desk and I am betraying myself in this way. I cannot go on wasting such a precious opportunity that so many dream of.

— Disappointed in Myself

Dear Disappointed,

I decided to try to answer your letter now, because I’ve just been through a week of terrible writing days, the sort of days that used to make me feel as though I should pack it all in and do something else with my life. Writing last week was like trying to swim through peanut butter—I tried and got nowhere, just ended up with a mess on my hands. I’m also feeling a bit disappointed in myself. At the same time, I know that I’ll wake up tomorrow and drink too much coffee and sit down at my desk and try to write for a little while if I can. What makes you a writer? It’s not a book contract or a byline, or the number of hours you’re able to devote to writing. It’s the commitment you’ve made to it and to yourself.

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