Getting Lost in the ‘Shoulds’


Do you ever get lost in the shoulds?

I should have done that yesterday. I should have done this earlier. I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that. I should write in accordance with this rule or that author’s opinion.

I should write something that this reader would like, or a story that adds up to that person’s likes.

I should get things done and never take a moment to relax.

I should work, be productive.

I shouldn’t take a break, I shouldn’t mess around, I shouldn’t do something just for fun.

See where I’m going with this?




I remember a blog post I read by Kristen Lamb some while ago that spoke on our society’s ideals about being “productive”.

How can someone be productive if they’re not having any fun? If they’re miserable?

The world wants me to be productive. They don’t care how I do it. Or do they?


Most people get angry at creative types who are happy. They ignore how successful they are, how joyful their life is. Why?

Because this person (doing the hating) works a job they hate. And sometimes you have to do that. But what if they tried for one they didn’t hate? Or what if they tried doing something fun even though it wouldn’t be productive to their job?

Because that’s why they’re pissy with the creative types. The creative type does two things that our society normally tells us isn’t possible.

ONE, they are productive at the same time as they are TWO, having fun.

A lot of people put creatives down for having fun. Saying they’re lazy. Irresponsible. That they should get a “real job”.

If they’re being productive, aren’t they being productive? Apparently not if they’re having fun.

You should be miserable. That’s how it works.

No. I don’t think so. Productive is productive. And creatives do have a real job. Who wrote the movie you’re watching to wind down after the job  you loathe? Who wrote that book, sang that song? Do you honestly think it wasn’t WORK, doing that?




So how did I get stuck in the ‘shoulds’ again?

Because they don’t go away. They’re everywhere. Kind of how Kristen comments on school. It has made learning MISERABLE. Learning should be fun, at least a bit. But instead, we, as a society are sucking out the happiness, the fun, the joy and replacing it with “work, work, work” mentality. And we do this everywhere.


“Counting down the minutes ‘til my heartbeat stops. Fooling myself is a fulltime job.”

Pop Culture by Icon for Hire


Screw that. I want to be happy. I shouldn’t be punishing myself because I’m NOT miserable. That doesn’t make any sense.

I started down this stupid line of thinking because I needed t o ‘work harder’. And not leave any time for fun.


Instead, how about this.

How about I write a story the way it comes to me, the way it unfolds in my head, and then worry about rules. How about I use my voice to write before I utterly destroy it with “shoulds”. I need a balance of rules and story. I can’t overpower myself with the rules, sucking the happiness and fun out of the story.

How about I schedule in something fun? In fact, why not cut the stress off schedules altogether. What does a tight schedule (when it doesn’t need to be there), actually do for me?

Uh, nothing. Except make me feel stressed to get stuff done that should be fun, worry about what I should have gotten done, what I should have tried harder on, and what I should try to get done now.




Creatives most often suffer from being 100% productive. Let’s not even call it productive. It’s not. It’s just work, work, work. And it’s killing my writing. Because I’m a creative type.

I NEED FUN! I NEED INSPIRATION! And not just for my writing. There aren’t sections of me. I’m one person. And a creative person needs to be creative, not just box it up in a few hours for work, work, work, writing. That’s not even being creative. That’s turning it into work.


Here’s my advice to myself and you – creative or not: How about I stop caring so horribly about what others approve and expect of me, and start caring about what my soul is crying out for.

You know, being me. Being creative. Having some fun. I don’t need to be a robot to be productive.


Oh – and even better advice for myself. BELIEVE THIS. Don’t feel guilty for having fun. And stop having to remind myself of this. Just do it, live it.

Why don’t we enjoy what we can and deal with the rest as it comes.


Do you ever get lost in the “shoulds”? It’s hard to knock it off once you’ve started, huh?



Filed under Stream of Consciousness

7 responses to “Getting Lost in the ‘Shoulds’

  1. Tannis Boyd

    I love what I do for a living, even though I’m not an artist by any means….. I can draw a great stick figure!! My kids are all great in the art area and I love it! After watching the three of them over the years, I find that when they create something, they do have fun but, they also get more done! Now, my talents lie in a different realm but sometimes I may not like the people in my atmosphere, but, if I’m not me an I don’t have fun, I’m not as productive either. You have to find what works for you and find your balance in what you do.

  2. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And really, I’d love it if my play also happened to be my work. 🙂

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