I thought about what I could accomplish if I just gave up doing things. I could add four hours of writing a week if I didn’t go to karate class and dropped one of my volunteer positions. Those four hours looked tempting, until I realized what I would lose.
Dropping karate would eliminate the main driver of my exercise program, and impact my ability to include telling details. Karate taught me what it feels like to fall repeatedly, to get hit and be hit, to push my body to its limits – details I’ve included in my stories.
Dropping volunteer work would cut me off from people I might never meet otherwise, situations I would never encounter in my normal life, and information I could never realize I needed to know. My ear for dialog has been honed by sitting in board meetings, my protagonists have faced challenges I’ve heard about at work bees, and many a plot has been saved an embarrassing continuity error because of an off-hand remark made by a presenter at an orientation meeting.
So, what is mine to give up? Guilt. And that’s yours to give up, too. Keep the activities that bring you joy, keep the volunteer work that benefits you and your community, and give up the guilt. Your writing will benefit.