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What do you do when you feel like quitting?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by C. R. Rowenson, May 13, 2019.

  1. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

    Things have been kind of rough lately on the creative front. I was wondering what all of you do when quitting seems like it would be easier than getting up and writing more.
    Judith Rook likes this.
  2. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

    I have gone through moments, but I just love writing. When I think "this is waste", I remember that love and think "I don't care". I consider my novel a practice run, learning the ropes. Mind you, I'm a blob in a wheelchair, writing is all I can do, it'd be harder for anyone able-bodied.
  3. kinslayeur

    kinslayeur Scribe

    I have been in a few funks when it comes to writing and can feel where you are right now. Sure, quitting would be fine and dandy, but it could be that you need a new creative outlet or just need to let writing cool off and do something else. Find a new thing to do or go back to something you used to do previously. Channel your energy and focus into something and if the urge and want to write is no longer there, that isn't a bad thing. It is just how life is. I have found that taking a bit of time away from writing can actually open up new creative ideas for writing stories and books and has helped clarify some problems I've had in other writing projects.
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Personal rule of thumb: write at least a little bit every night, regardless of how I feel, even if it is utter garbage. I went through long, long stretches with the rewrites (which is mostly what I've been doing the past couple of years) where even 200 words a night was an accomplishment.

    Sometimes I'll dredge up older works, read through them, and give them a solid edit pass. Often these are stories I have not looked at in months, if not years, and I am pleasantly surprised by how good they read. Rewrites (for me) take months, but edit passes can be accomplished in a few days.

    What I've done a few times: I picked up an old line cooking timer. Set it to half an hour. And during that half hour, I write. Even if it's junk. I punch letters on the keyboard until the bell rings.
  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    For me, if I want to write, I write. If I don't, I don't, and I don't feel guilty about it. Writing is like anything else in life. It has its place in the priority cue, and if I think I'd rather be doing something else with my time, I go and do that instead. It's a choice.

    But for the most part, I always try to make a little progress, because it all adds up. I started a new book recently. Had everything planned out, but for whatever reason, I was having trouble getting going. For the most part, I did a lot of thinking beforehand, and this has been the most planned out novel I've done, and I basically just have to write it out because most of the heavy lifting has been done.

    Instead of getting frustrated when I found myself stalling out, I just made a deal with myself. As long as I got 250 words down, I could call it a day. Sometimes all i get is 250. Other times its 500, maybe 1000. With my other books, 1000+ words was typical, but I'm not sweating it. Been there. Done that. I know it's not about if I'm going to finish. It's just a matter of when.

    Like I said, we all make choices about how we want to spend our time. If it's writing, write. Otherwise, go do something else that you'd rather be doing that makes you happy. No right or wrong to it. No consequences except those you impose on yourself.
  6. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Pick yourself up and keep going.

    Persistence is critical. However, persistence in the right endeavour is also critical. Therein lies the rub.
    Judith Rook and Rkcapps like this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

    This describes me—except for the part about feeling guilty.

    I do feel there's no point in forcing myself to write on a project if I've reached a certain moment, a moment of clarity about the project. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter to me anymore. If I were more of a professional, working on deadline or trying to fulfill a contract, I'd need to force myself to continue regardless. But I'm not. The guilt comes mostly from the realization that this is probably a vicious circle, i.e. the understanding that failure to complete will mean never reaching the level of consistent, professional writing and publication. Heh.
    Judith Rook and Rkcapps like this.
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I can't tell you to quit or not, or what your priorities should be. At some point we all have to do some soul searching and figure out what we want in life, and we have to line up our actions with our values and commitments and our abilities. It's entirely possible that quitting is the right answer, or the wrong answer, and nobody else can figure that out for you.

    But assuming that we're not talking about making a decision so much as overcoming doubts or a bad mood about it.... there are plenty of steps you can take to try and psych yourself up a bit. Doubts are perfectly normal when you're writing. There's also the possibility that your doubts are reflecting that you're not prepared in some way for the challenge, and if so you should look at them as an opportunity to identify and eventually overcome your weaknesses as a writer.

    The first step is taking a look at the journey you're on with your writing. What are the better pieces that you've written? What are you proud of having written? What was fun to write? What's the earliest thing you wrote that you still have? Go back and look at them. If they sucked, well, that's okay, you've gotten better since then, right? And whether they did or not, you're looking for a feeling, for personal energy, not for criticism at the moment. Laugh about it. Remember it. Empathize with your past self. (If you're having trouble with this step, you might consider pausing to focus on your basic writing techniques.)

    Another is to think about where you are going with your writing. Look a few steps past your current hurdles and think about how great the future scenes in your story are, or how awesome it will be to write and finish them. You do find your story awesome, don't you? Something about it is worth all this time, so what is it? Find it. Remember it. (If this isn't working for you, you may have serious story issues that you need to figure out.)

    It's also important to celebrate your accomplishments. Nothing is more motivating than progress. Have you been making any progress? Word counts? Chapters? Taking note of your editing stages? You don't necessarily need an outline of where you're going, but it helps to be able to say "I've completed" say the second round of edits on the third chapter. "Next I'm going to complete" the first draft of chapter seven. Nevermind tracking, you don't need the detailed excel sheet, but you need to be aware of the benchmarks you're hitting so you can recognize and celebrate your progress. That's super important for getting through a project as long as a book. (If you've been struggling to make progress, you might want to review your approach to basic writing discipline.)

    This list could go on, but I'll stop here. However, if your doubts are persistent, and not easily dispelled by these kinds of tactics, then I strongly urge you to attempt to isolate where they are coming from, to pinpoint it with a red flag, and to work on the corresponding skill set independently until you develop the competence to dispel those doubts.
  9. Peat

    Peat Sage

    Sometimes I take a break - a few days, a few weeks, even a month or two. Sometimes I put on the inspirational music and crack on through. Sometimes I just write something else.

    I've quit a lot of things but writing's almost an addiction. I get the ideas whether I like it or not; might as well use them.

    But everyone's different. What are you finding rough?
    Judith Rook and Rkcapps like this.
  10. Rkcapps

    Rkcapps Sage

    For some reason I can't get those blue quote boxes, only "reply" comes up when I right click, there's no choice for "quote". I'll just copy and paste:

    Penpilot said: It's just a matter of when.

    This is so true. It may mean a long slog, but if you keep going, something can happen if you take on board everything you learn from reading and other writers. If you don't write, nothing can.
    Judith Rook likes this.
  11. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

    Most people go through a stage where they feel like calling it quits. I recently lost the plot and ripped up all my worldbuilding and other notes exclaiming "Scr*w this! It's just not working for me! I quit!" Fortunately I had created a world that was based on the science and technology of the late 1930s, the politics of the Weimar Republic and the society and culture of the so-called sin cities of Paris, Shanghai, Berlin and New York with a fusion of southeast Asian, Muslim, Buddhist and Polynesian influences. As I've been reading about these things for a long time it won't be a problem with coming back to it.

    There's nothing wrong with walking away from your writing if you feel it has become a chore rather than a pleasure. More often than not the lure of the pen, typewriter or computer will beckon....
    Judith Rook likes this.
  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I sing "Always look on the bright side of life" and give a whistle, because life is a...

    If my name was Brian it would work even better.
    C. R. Rowenson, Malik and Darkfantasy like this.
  13. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    I wouldn't listen to Demesnedenoir if I were you. He thinks he's the Messiah. But he's not, he's a very naughty boy! - love that film.

    If you want to quit then quit. I have plenty of times but I love writing so much I always end up coming back to it. I don't expect anything from it.
  14. Malik

    Malik Auror

    I quit for five years, not long after a major publisher held my manuscript for over 18 months, asked me for a series treatment, and then passed with a form letter. After 15 years of beating my head against the wall (actually much longer than that, as I wrote my first novel in high school and took a hiatus from submitting in college since I was sure the first thing I wrote upon graduation would be a world-rocking bestseller), I finally just walked away. I probably had 200 rejections over 10 novels even before the whole 18-month nightmare that ultimately led me to hang it up.

    Five years later, I was critically injured and damned near killed in Operation Enduring Freedom. I found that last manuscript on a hard drive that my wife had sent me in the hospital. I rewrote it while convalescing.

    That book became Dragon's Trail, which went on to reach bestseller status on every major ebook retailer in four countries and sell over 10,000 copies in 18 months. It's still selling well. It qualified me for the Campbell Award; I've been told that I might be the first author to qualify with an independent debut novel. The sequel ended up 25th on Goodreads' Hugo Award recommendations list this year. I've had inquiries into the film rights to the series. At the last fantasy con I attended, a fan asked me to sign her boob.

    My first ten novels were terrible. They wouldn't sell today even if I released them myself. Reading over them now, I wince. I literally have nightmares about being hacked and my previous work being released online. It took me 30 years of study and hard writing to get to the point where people want to pay money to read my stuff. Nothing about this is easy.

    Take a breather if you need to, but don't quit. You might be closer than you think.
  15. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Just highlight the text and a small pop-up will appear with a reply button. Press that and you'll create a message with the highlighted text quoted.

    Any way...

    One thing I think some writers do is put unreasonable expectations on themselves. I know I did. And those unreasonable expectations become a weight that they carry around that hinders writing.

    I mean, imagine one day you decided you wanted to start playing baseball. You get on a team and hit the field. Is it reasonable to think that you could hit a 100mph fastball, or throw a 100mph fastball without ever having practised or played a game in your life? The obvious answer is no. It takes thousands of hours of practise to even have a slim chance.

    But with writing, a lot of people expect to be able to preform without ever having finished a single story of any sort. Why? Because they have ideas, or they can articulate a thought on paper? Lots of reasons, but it boils down to someone expecting to be able to no only do something competently but to be able to do it at a reasonably high level without ever having really done it before.

    Like baseball, it takes time to become good. It takes lots and lots of practice and lots and lots of failure of all sorts. But it all starts with one thing, simply having fun playing around, with no expectations other than enjoying your time on the field throwing and hitting the ball and enjoying just playing the game. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you catch one right in the cup, and all your friends laugh at your pain.

    The long-long road to getting better and going pro is built on that, and there's no guarantee that any of us will reach the end. So, might as well enjoy playing the game, because, if you have a choice, no point in do something if you're not having fun?
  16. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    I feel like quitting daily. Still don't because that would be dumb. I think it's natural/normal to feel that way...writing is hard! So go easy on yourself. On days when you don't feel like writing, do something that still inspires and feeds your creativity. Then go back to writing the next day, even if it's only a few hundred words. Something is better than nothing because, in the overall picture, if writing is what you love then you will be even more unsatisfied going without.
  17. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    A long time since I've felt like this, but what I used to do was stop writing and read what I love A LOT.

    Just to be clear. When I say I stopped writing, I mean for a few days, weeks, or months. Not forever :)
    Judith Rook likes this.
  18. Royal

    Royal Acolyte

    I'm in a position where I've been on break from writing for ages and haven't written anything in a while. If you want to keep writing I think you would go on, but especially so read things you enjoy.
  19. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    If it were easy, everyone would do it. Persist. And remember, chicks dig scars. Glory is forever.

    Malik likes this.
  20. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Had to quote this so I could say, "Daaaayum, son."
    Malik likes this.

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