Sometimes I Think About Quitting

I try to stay pretty honest about my feelings on this blog – the good stuff and the bad – so I think it’s only fair to all of you to admit that sometimes I think about quitting writing.

And I can’t even say it’s because of rejection or the whole publishing process – although as Cait Peterson so aptly puts it on YA Misfits that part is rough.

I think about quitting sometimes because of the writing itself.

alan-rickman
It would look a lot like this.

Here’s a good parallel: I love to work out. I mean, I don’t love going to the gym, I don’t go, “Oh my god, I can’t WAIT!” But I love pushing myself, feeling the strength of my body, and I love the sensation afterward: exhausted, hollow, but building…becoming stronger. I didn’t always feel this way about exercise. I had a very yo-yo relationship with weight and working out and fitness, and it took a solid six months of making it a priority before I could claim I worked out regularly and enjoyed it.

Still, despite this, it’s still easy for me to fall off the fitness wagon. After my extremely relaxing honeymoon, I had a hell of a time in the next two weeks trying to get up off the couch and move. I would come up with a thousand excuses and revel in all the other fun things I could be doing with that hour. (Reading! Video games! TV!) But when I did finally get back in the habit, I remember my I love it.

This is what my relationship with writing is like, too.

When I’m in the writing zone, it’s awesome. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but I don’t care because I’m getting words on the page, twisting them around, buffing them up. I’m toying with characters like a fucking demi-god, and I know them all and love them and want other people to hear their stories because I think they’re stories are awesome and important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good day where the words fall from my fingers like rain or a bad day where I’m wringing them, desperately, from my blood, I have the satisfaction of doing something I love and making progress.

And then, like recently, I finish a draft and send it away for feedback. I give myself “just a little time off” to recover before I start my new project.

And I fall off the wagon.

I don’t mean to, but sometimes it’s so easy for me to let things slide. To start playing video games again. To start marathoning a TV show that I’ve always wanted to watch. To suggest a full Lord of the Rings rewatch with The Man. To do anything but write.

Because it’s hard.

Because it’s time-consuming.

Because it’s basically a mental workout.

I think to myself, “Other people just go to work, come home and do whatever. They don’t have to worry about plotlines and character arcs and how many words they’ve written. They don’t have to tell their significant other, ‘Sorry, sweetie, I can’t cuddle with you and watch TV – I have to work tonight.’ I could be one of those people…”

It doesn’t last. I get antsy. I get restless. Other people’s stories aren’t enough; I want to tell my own, my way. I want to explore new characters and worlds and find out the best ways to tell them.

So I don’t think I’ll ever actually quit, but sometimes, just sometimes, I think about it.

 

12 thoughts on “Sometimes I Think About Quitting

  1. I feel this way too, but then I remember all those years of being upset and hating things because I wasn’t letting myself be creative. I would force it away and hide from it because it was hard, it was scary, and there were all these shiny things I could do instead. But deep down, I was bored. I love reading and playing the computer, but eventually I get bored of the them and need to do something else. So yes, sometimes you fall off the wagon, but the words won’t go away.

    We are truly insane, but frankly I don’t care. 😀

  2. Interesting post. In my case, I don’t consider it “falling off the wagon,” but taking a break. I usually return to writing feeling refreshed. I can’t force it.

  3. I know how you feel! It’s easy to take a break, veg out, and never want to strain over something, but I don’t take breaks anymore.

    I don’t want to give myself the opportunity to quit. Instead, after I finish something, I write maybe five sentences. About nothing. About a little story, a what-if or whatever.

    Usually I watch movies about what I write. Fantasy and horror have extremely creative b-movies that get the wheels spinning in my head. 🙂 I like to edit their writing in my head or take their creatures and put them in better plots.

    And I’ll read anything for the same reason.

    Those are my breaks.

    Suppose I should have done something similar with the gym. ;P (Not sorry.) (Sort of sorry.) (STAY IN GYM, KIDS.)

  4. This is exactly how I feel after a week off. It’s hard to push back into the groove but it’s oh-so-worth-it for those days the words fly from my fingers and live on the page! Keep on writing and we’ll keep on reading your stuff. 😀

  5. Oh, I so, so, SO feel this way sometimes. It’s so easy to fall off the wagon. And once you’re off, everything else seems so shiny, like you said. Like, normal people have time to relax? WHAT? And they don’t feel this terrible sense of anxiety for not being productive? What kind of mystical life IS that? I think half the battle is just sticking with it and getting back up after you fall down. Because it really is worth it, even though it’s ridiculously hard sometimes. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. ❤

  6. *hugs* Oh I know that feeling. It’s why I try SO hard to not have down time between projects. I send one out to you guys, I pick another up and work on it. I work on outlining another before that one’s even done, so that if the edits aren’t done before the next draft is, I have something to launch myself into. Because I know if I don’t write for a week, it’s that much harder to get words in later when I need them. ❤ it's worth it, in the long run. I know this. Doesn't mean it doesn't sometimes hurt to force myself to sit down and get the words on the page.

  7. I feel ya.

    I’m a man of many hobbies, and sometimes I can’t keep all the plates spinning. The one I let drop the most is writing. I think that’s because I do it for a living. Yeah, writing marketing and advertising copy for the web is not the same as writing a novel, but it’s still writing, all day.

    So after I’ve put my son to bed and spent time talking with my wife about our days and walked the dog, I have two and a half hours until I go to bed. Writing is often the last thing I decide to do. Instead I draw silly pictures (like this!) or play video games (the new Tomb Raider!) or read. Weekends are worse, because I add long runs to my schedule.

    I tell myself I can sneak some time in at work–I use MS Word all day, no one would know–but I rarely get the chance. I’m just too busy.

    Thanks for reminding me it hits everyone. “Other peoples stories aren’t enough.” Right on. It’s a slog sometimes, but it’s worth it.

  8. This is so much The Truth. Sometimes I think how much easier my life would be if I didn’t write. I could just read and watch movies and TV and relaaaaax. But like you, it would never last. I itch to write the next thing, or revise again to make an MS better. I think it goes to show how good a (short) break can be.

  9. This is interesting, because for me writing has always been more of a vague addiction, like that occasional cigarette that turns into a smoking binge even though you know it threatens everything you value — relationships, health, etc. I tell myself I can give it up any time I want. I can sleep through the night instead of sneaking off with my laptop for several hours at 0:dark:30. I can go to the gym/ garden/ walk the dog/ take that class. Sometimes I succeed for months or even years, but writing sucks me back. Oh, well — at least I always have just the right story to read!

  10. It is hard and I am just starting on this writing adventure. I am so glad you posted this. I thought I was alone and this is was the encouragement I needed . THANKS!

  11. I feel the same way! It’s a huge mental workout, and non-writers sometimes don’t realize how much energy, blood, and pieces of your soul it takes to produce something. Let alone something good!

    But breaks are good too… I think you need that. You need to miss writing, to look forward to it. Then, when you’re ready, jump back in.

  12. i think it’s easy to get burnt out when we push too hard or try to force things. i absolutely hate it when people say you should write every day. i don’t. and i no longer feel guilty about it. not everyone’s creative process has to be the same. i love writing more now because i write when i want to – when my brain can’t contain the thoughts anymore, not because i think i have to.

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