chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Monday Musings: When All You Want To Do is Quit March 21, 2016

Filed under: Blog,writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 7:14 am
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Since January my writing life has been a non-stop whirlwind. Between coordinating and running Sun versus Snow, working on copyedits for a major revision, slush reading for Pitch Madness, and taking care of all the other things non-writing in my life, I’m pretty close to burned out.

 

 

In my weakest moments over the last months I’ve wondered if writing was really the right thing for my life at this moment. There are so many things vying for my time, and it feels like failure if I’m not writing at least for a few minutes every day. On certain days I go to bed feeling like a wreck because I’m so guilt-ridden for not opening my latest draft and doing some kind of work.

 

 

I think the breaking point was most recently when I was sitting on a bus with twenty screaming sixth graders trying to actually fix a scene that I already knew was broken. Honestly, if I wasn’t a pretty private person I think I would have broken down and cried right there. It took about an hour of zoning out and listening to music that I finally had an epiphany moment.

 

 

Here it is…There is NO ONE out there pushing you to write-except YOU. That creature called self-doubt you’re battling is YOU. So my answer is this – give yourself a FREAKING BREAK. Log out of social media. Close your laptop. Put aside anything writing related and do something else. Anything else to take your mind off of all the things you THINK you’re missing, doing wrong, not up to task on.

 

 

Stop comparing yourself to your friend who just signed with an agent. Or sold her book for xx dollars. That is his/her story not yours. Your time may not be now but it’s coming. Be patient. Wait. Give yourself time to walk away. Take a breath. Forget everything in publishing that is wearing you down. So you didn’t get 500 words today. OK. The world won’t end. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get a 1,000 and make up for it. The reality is that the only thing that matters is you and your well-being.

 

 

Remind yourself that you have your own path and that torturing yourself about what comes next is only hurting you. If it’s helpful, take a social media break. When writing feels like a chore, step back and take a day, a week, a month to recharge. Don’t do what I did. Burn the candle so fervently that when you get to the end there’s absolutely NOTHING left. That not only harms you, but everyone in your world. It also doesn’t allow you to make rational decisions, because if all you want to do is quit, you’re in the wrong mindset. You’re so worked up and twisted you don’t realize you’re not only giving up your dream but also giving up on yourself.

 

 

Please don’t get so low that you can’t dig your way out. Talk to friends in the writing community. Reach out and ask them to honestly talk about their low points (because I guarantee we’ve all had them). Then when you realize you’re not alone, give yourself time to reenergize. The words will always be there and quitting will not solve your problems. It will only delay your path, and I know in the end that’s the last thing any of us want.

 

 

What about you? Have you ever felt like quitting? What kept you motivated to continue writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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38 Responses to “Monday Musings: When All You Want To Do is Quit”

  1. shantibeefree Says:

    Hi, I just had a person critique my writing, telling me how bad it was but not giving me any encouraging words. I got caught in feeling like an awful writer. Got caught in feeling like a terrible ugly person and that writing should not be for me. A moment ago I sat down and wrote a stream of consciousness post on my website and shared it. I could have kept it hidden but one part of me just knew that I need to stop hiding. I need to be ok with just being me. To just let the words out and share. I called the post struggling as a writer but willing to keep going. All true. I’m glad you shared your fears and doubts as well. It’s so hard being alone with words. It’s so hard to have your words get judged but needing to let it all go and be. Be ok with the fact that when I read what I wrote for myself I feel content.

    • That is only ONE person’s opinion. It can take some time to find critique partners that are the right fit for you. Hang in there and keep writing. DO NOT allow one bad apple ruin your love for writing. Good luck!

  2. I am a slow and considered writer so I suffer a great deal of angst with this. I know that those days I write well, I write really well and on those days I can’t live up to my own expectations are quite crippling, despite the fact that I know I can go back the next day or the day after and fix it. I manage by keeping the faith in my characters and story, even if I can only get out 50 good words a day, then lie awake for hours at night thinking about where things are going next. It is a hard art and I suspect that by nature it is only the bad writers who don’t constantly doubt themselves and their capabilities.

  3. jenniferdyerbooks Says:

    I feel this same way lately. So tired and there is a part of me that keeps wondering why I’m chasing this writing thing when it wears me out so much. My mom reminded me writing was my therapy that helped me when life as a mom of a child with special needs child got stressful. In getting stressed out and trying to Push myself I’ve lost that.
    So, I’m working on enjoying the journey with less stress about the final destination. Hugs to you.

  4. Maria Says:

    Thanks for sharing! I need this reminder so often. Finally convinced myself that some days, I’m just not going to write. That doesn’t mean I won’t write the next day or the next. And, that doesn’t mean I have to feel guilty. I keep writing because I still have more to say. That won’t change even if we give ourselves much needed breaks!

  5. Laura Evelev Says:

    I love your blog! Thank you for all your hard work. It is appreciated!!!

  6. For about the last month I’ve been on a steady diet of disappointment and rejection. Feeling the urge to start something new, but I know it’s way too early to just give up on my latest work.

  7. This is a hugely important post for all writers, including multi-published ones. There’s always the perception that we have to push, push, push even if it makes us miserable and we’re not confident in our work, because Deadlines! and The Market! and That Other Author Writes 4K Every Day! Nine books later, I’m in burnout recovery mode with no idea when I’ll feel able to write again, and I’ve been talking to a few other authors in the same place. Life is very stressful and demanding sometimes, and it’s OK to step back for a while and not feel guilty about it. But we seldom give ourselves permission to do it.

  8. Thanks for this! At present I’m not feeling burned out from writing itself, but more from all the other things that come with being an aspiring author – blogging, social media, networking, etc. It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way, and you’re so right that these are all pressures I’m putting on myself. Here’s to taking breaks and allowing ourselves a chance to reenergize!

  9. crbwriter Says:

    The most encouraging thing that I can apply to those writing doubts is an experience I had early in my PR career with a Keep America Beautiful affiliate. Our efforts seemed so puny–one little project at a time, met with some support and some apathy and some derision. But the tiny steps added up! Ten years later, you can see the impact! Whenever I think I’m not writing fast enough, that vision is encouraging to me.

  10. kathleea Says:

    My family is so used to me saying, “I quit” that now they don’t even blink when I say it (although I say it a lot less than I used to). I find what helps is to look back on some of your writing when you first started and see how far you’ve come, how much your writing has improved and how you know so much more than you did then! It does help to take a social media break too. I tend to binge watch Netflix shows I wasn’t able to watch when I was deep in the writing/editing cave and eventually I got back to writing. It’s a tough business but taking care of your own mental health is essential. Great post and I hope you get some well-needed rest soon! Let me know if I can do anything, I’d be glad to help. ((hugs))

  11. I’ve definitely had those moments, too. Most of them center around, “Am I working on the right thing? Am I wasting my time with a project I should set aside and start something new?” Those are definite low points. I like to go back through the nice comments someone has given me to remind me why a particular project has merit when that happens.

    I also understand feeling overwhelmed with too many things. It’s so easy to get bogged down in what you feel like you’re supposed to be doing, but as you said, your journey is your own. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. And it’s all right to say no sometimes, too. You have to take care of yourself!

    • Thanks for the comment, Michelle. I am the same way about projects. I always wonder if it’s right for the market. Or will an editor respond to the premise. But in the end, I think you have to believe in your story. And going back to the positive comments always helps too! 🙂

  12. tawney13 Says:

    I needed this today, very much. Your post was helpful as always. Social media is a big factor in my pressure on myself. That’s why I try not to go on that much. I am my own worst enemy. Thanks girl!

  13. This is such a timely post. I’ve definitely felt like quitting, a lot lately because I’ve been struggling with a lot of things in the writing world. I still haven’t found “the magic solution” (not that there is one) but realizing that I’m not alone helps. Thanks for sharing your experience. We do this because we love it. But sometimes we need some time and space away from the frustrations to re-fall in love and appreciate the experience.

  14. anag7 Says:

    I’ve definitely felt this way before! I used to beat myself up about not writing anything in the day. Now, I’m learning to take each day as it comes and not worry if I don’t get anything done in my writing. I know it’s my passion, so I won’t quit. There’s no reason for me to get so upset if I miss a day or two. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi there! Yes, it’s easy to get down on yourself when you haven’t written any words, but I’m slowly learning (like you mentioned) that we all need a break and it’s okay to take time away. 🙂

  15. mlynnhazen Says:

    Hi Amy- Thanks so much for sharing this, and I’m so sorry to hear you’re feeling burned out. Definitely take the time you need! I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how to balance the self-discipline needed for writing with the self-care you also need for writing. When is it time to push through and when is it time to be gentle with yourself and recharge, and how do you know the difference? If I ever figure that out, I’d love to write a blog post about it. Anyway, enjoy your break! I hope it helps!

  16. Nothing like a bus load of screaming kids to help you reach an epiphany moment. 🙂 Hang in there! Just the fact that you are reflecting and realizing that you need a break makes you a great teacher/writer/person.

  17. laurenkdentonbooks Says:

    Just a quick thought–having an agent and/or a book deal does not make you immune to these agonizing problems! Even with a deal, I struggle mightily with getting the words out, panicking if they don’t come, feeling like I have to fix this scene NOW, and feeling like a failure at the end of the day if I didn’t make much progress in writing OR if I neglected my family to get that progress. So, those breaks you talk about are important no matter which stage you are in!

    I’ll also say that when I was writing, editing, and querying, remembering that no one was waiting on me to finish my book–that essentially I was the one putting all the pressure on myself–helped take that pressure off. I had to remind myself often though to keep myself from going to (or getting stuck in) that frenzied place.

    And I second the social media breaks. As we all know, Twitter, FB, etc can be great tools, but they can also be the instigators of a lot of that pressure and comparison.

    Thanks for putting your feelings into words!

  18. Laura Brown Says:

    Oh, thank you for this! I needed to read this today and found your words super helpful.


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