At least once during the week and once over every weekend, I allow myself one “Nope Day.”
A Nope Day is a day purposely dedicated to — you guessed it — saying “nope” to any writing that is not immediately required of me to complete.
Why do I do this? Because I needed a reason to stop feeling guilty about not doing work. But I also knew that doing work all the time in an attempt to stop feeling guilty was only going to wear me down and knock me out.
So I decided to try giving myself at least one or two days a week to do the absolute minimum.
On a weekday this might mean getting up, going to work, clocking out, and lounging on the couch (read: entertaining the puppy) until bedtime. On a Saturday it might mean waking up whenever I want (read: when the dog wants me to) and not doing any work at all for the entire day if I don’t want to.
If I feel inspired to write or make something, I’m not necessarily going to stop myself from doing so. I just approach the day with no requirements. No, “You have to do this extra thing before the day ends.”
And do you know what? This allows me to go about my day without feeling guilty. To watch a movie or binge a show, to relax and enjoy that “me” time without having to think about writing or worry about all the work I could or should be doing instead.
I don’t personally have this problem anymore — feeling guilty for not doing something I enjoy is a major waste of energy when I don’t always have a lot of it to spare. But I know many of you out there struggle with guilt and the way it twists up your mind and makes writing even harder.
My suggestion? A planned day where nothing happens because nothing has to.
For the record, this doesn’t mean you plan out your day in the morning and then decide later, “Nope, I’m not going to do any of that work today.” I plan my Nopes — and so should you. Otherwise, you still feel guilty for not doing something you planned on doing. Plan to do nothing, and there’s no guilt. Make sense?
Do nothing today, and start fresh tomorrow. It’s OK. The world is not going to end.
Give a few Nope Days a try. See if they work for you. If they don’t, they don’t. But you may accidentally find that planning to do nothing actually motivates you to do more when you do have a long to-do list.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.