You have your reasons for quitting writing; it’s too hard, you’ve come to the conclusion your writing is unlikely to bring you fame and fortune, nobody wants to read your work or even your best tweed writer jacket no longer fits you. They all seem like great reasons to quit.
The only problem is that you are displaying some important signs and these signs indicate you’re not ready to quit. If only you knew you were wasting valuable time and energy telling everyone about your intention to leave the creative world.
There are times when writing is similar to sailing a small boat, across a stormy sea at night.
Think of your little boat as your creative project and the angry sea being a mixture of your emotions, your recent literary experiences and your writer demons.
You are in total darkness, desperately clinging onto something (which you have little faith in), you have no idea where you are going to end up and you are cursing yourself for even thinking about setting off on a journey like this.
You are desperate…when out of the literary darkness comes this beam of light.
Every writer will, at some point in their literary journey, experience one of those dark days where their head is overcrowded with demons, their draft novel sucks and everyone on Twitter is tweeting about their amazing literary successes.
When this happens the true writer knows that quitting is not an option. Being creative is woven into a writer’s DNA. If you opened up the vein of a writer you would most probably see letters, words and semi colons floating about. Writing is not something a true writer can give up.
So when our literary world gets gloomy, when we have eaten all the chocolate we can lay our hands on, when we can cry no more, when all creative hope is lost – our only option left is to pray!
I like to think that there is a ‘Writer’s Prayer’ – something that will calm our emotional state and give us a few minutes of quiet reflection.
I have fallen off my writing bike a couple of times during these past few weeks.
All sorts of writing related issues can send you flying off your writing bike; crisis of confidence, rejection, fear of failure etc.
Coming off can result in you storming off out of the living room, slamming a door, having a hissy fit, texting writer friends a long-winded account of your writing situation (heavy usage of either weeping emojis and angry faced emojis) or even threatening to jack it all in.
Getting back on your writing bike requires strength and bravery.
Here are some recent situations from my writing life:
Ever had one of those mornings where you struggle to get out of bed and all your plans of having a ‘writing day’ go out of the window?
So when you find yourself enjoying the delights of a warm bed, moaning about how tired you feel and coming up with 100 excuses for not doing any writing, here are some handy tips for turning this situation around:
Blogging can be hard, frustrating and at times something which makes you think ‘why do I bother?’
A positive mindset is vital. It is something which will get you through the Negative Nancy days; when your blog stats flatline, your ideas for posts run dry and you see nothing but typos in things that have already been published. Sigh!
Repeating affirmations to yourself is a great way of staying positive. They will also make you a happier blogger.
Writer friends are special human beings. They understand your creative side, share your writing passion and know all about the emotional turmoil that goes hand in hand with writing a book. You share work, give each other feedback and talk writing. Bliss!
This shared understanding forges a deep bond between you both, especially if you have felt misunderstood by non-writers for years. Suddenly you have someone who gets the creative side of you! This is powerful friendship stuff.
So when your beloved writing friend decides that writing or blogging is not for them anymore it can be pretty painful for both of you.
Suddenly your creative sidekick is no longer there, as they are busy finding some other life path to follow. You are left clutching your notepad and pen feeling a little bit teary.
I experienced this last year when a friend of mine quit writing and it was a sad time.
If you are like me, here is what can happen next, after your writer friend announces that they are quitting:
It feels like dark clouds have covered up the sun in your writing world.
You find yourself doubting your own creative talents.
This is made hundred times worse when you come to the conclusion that your writer friend is the better writer out of the two of you. If they are giving up writing or blogging – shouldn’t you? If they can’t make it in the writing world – how can you do any better?
You find yourself viewing your writing journey through their eyes. They might be angry or hurt with the writing world, beaten down by rejections etc. So after hours of heart to heart conversations with them on this you soon find yourself adopting the same negative attitude.
You consider quitting too.
You worry that you won’t make new writer friends and if you do they won’t give you the same sort of feedback your writer friend gave you.
Here are some tips on how to stay positive and focused on your own writing journey, during this emotional time:
Accept that your writer friend is in a different place to you. Writers can tire of the creative struggle and look for other sources of happiness. It happens. Being a writer is, at times, torturous and sometimes the easiest thing to do is walk away. You have to accept that you are in a different place to your writing friend.
Remind yourself of your own writing journey and your own creative goals. Don’t lose sight of them. You are still a writer.
Remind yourself of the last time you felt good about your writing.
Watch out for those negative thoughts creeping in. Try to stop comparing yourself to your writer friend. No two writers are the same!
If your friend is a true writer they will be back. It may take weeks, months or years but as my good friend Candice Coates says ‘true writers cannot turn that light off!’
Strengthen your writer network by reaching out and making new writer and blogging friends. Social media is great for this. Start joining some writer conversations on Twitter or Facebook.
New writer friends bring a fresh perspective, which can be scary, but on the flip side think how useful this could be when getting feedback?
Accept that you will face writing struggles during your literary journey and you will deal with these in your own way – when they present themselves.
Be happy for your friend. They might have been troubled for a while about writing and this decision to quit could have lifted a huge weight from their shoulders.
Wish them well on their new journey and keep writing!
The Strop – This stage is where you decide in your head that you can’t do it. You will be facing a difficult writing challenge of some description; a plot hole, a character issue, a short story challenge, writing a new genre or writing something hard. It’s beyond you and can’t do it. Cue the creative strop! This will take the form of a theatrical walk away from laptop, some rubbing of the forehead, an unhappy face, heavy sighing, an email to whoever has set you the writing challenge to say you can’t do what they set you and maybe a kick of the waste paper bin. “I can’t do it!”
The Despair – This stage is where you beat yourself up about not being able to do it. Cue the despair! This will take the form of tears, a low mood, a solitary walk or a drive in the car alone whilst playing some sad songs. “Oh it is so terrible that I can’t do it!”
The Frustration– This stage is where you get frustrated with yourself for not being able to do it. You ask yourself whether you are going to let this thing beat you? This stage usually manifests itself through talking to yourself in a mirror, muttering to yourself or taking yourself aside and having a strong word. You may also start tweeting positve and motivational quotes at speed. “Not doing it is failure!”
The Graft – This is the stage where you sit down at the desk and start working at it. This will see some huffing and puffing, loud sighing, head scratching, pen chewing, gritting of teeth, a late night and some intense typing / scribbling. “I think I can do this!”
The Joy – This is the stage where you sit back and realise that you have done it! You have fixed that plot hole, sorted out that character issue, wrote a short story for the blog battle, wrote something from a new genre or tackled a difficult piece of writing. This stage manifests itself through a loud scream, a shriek, a gasp, an email to the person who set you the challenge saying ‘panic over I have done it!’ or a dance in an empty supermarket aisle. It feels amazing. “I have done it!”