Everyone has one. In the moment, you can’t help but thinking, ‘THIS IS TOO MUCH. I CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE. I’M DONE.”
At that point, maybe you step away for a few minutes or hours or days or longer. When it comes to writing, I know some of you – maybe many of you – are tempted to just jump ship for good.
This is why I’m here to tell you that this is not the time to quit.
You might think it is, but you’re wrong.
When you’ve reached that point when you feel like you just can’t go any further – you couldn’t possibly put up with one more day of all this – THAT is when you go after what you want with all the strength you have left in you.
Whether you believe in God or many gods or the Force or whatever, it always seems to work out the same way: just before you crash through your breaking point, something good happens. Something comes along and sets you on the right path again.
Maybe it’s not what you’ve been waiting for, maybe it seems small and you’re tempted to throw a tantrum because this is not what you wanted. But how unbearably mundane would life be if we got every single thing we ever wanted, whenever we wanted it?
We pay many prices for waiting, for holding out until the storm passes or racing through it headfirst, but there is always a reward. There is always a bright spot in the darkness.
I know it’s hard to stay faithful when you’re in that horrible place when everything you create seems to get lost in the void – when you’re working so hard to make something of yourself and it feels like not even a single head is turned in your direction. Oh, do I know. I’ve spent a lot of time in that place. And the advice to “keep writing anyway” seems overused, unhelpful – unwanted.
But it’s always the advice we don’t want to keep hearing that we need to listen to until it clicks.
You may feel like writing is getting you nowhere, but that’s because you’re moving very slowly down a very long road. You have no overhead view – you can’t see where you’re going to end up. These slow, sometimes desperate times are physically and emotionally painful. It’s Monday morning – maybe you woke up today and your first thought was, “The last thing I want to do is get up and write.”
For all you know, what you write today could be the catalyst that sets the rest of your writing career in motion. You forget that, publishing things on the internet, you often don’t know who’s watching, even before you take a leap and reach out to someone to, basically, notice you, and acknowledge your hard work in some way or another.
It’s not as hard as you think it is. Really. Even if you feel like you’re dragging your brain through every single word, it’s one more word you wrote today even though you didn’t feel like it. That’s an accomplishment. Small accomplishments add up. An 80,000-word novel is pretty much just 80,000 very small victories. Because God (gods, the Force) knows, you’re not going to write all of those words happily. I don’t know of any writer who loves writing every single word of a project, big or small.
I like to think – and there is no scientific evidence of this that I’m aware of, for the record – that every time you approach your breaking point, but don’t give up, you build up a little more tolerance – and your breaking point shifts a little further away. So you can endure more. You can withstand more of the things that make writing daily a major pain.
Don’t quit. And if you want to quit, write about quitting instead and see how that makes you feel. Maybe you’ll accidentally prove to yourself you CAN keep writing – just not about the same things you’ve been forcing yourself to write about until you’ve grown sick of them.
Lift your head up, now. Get back to writing.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.