Do This the Next Time You Feel Like Leaving the Writing Life Behind

Here’s how you can take a step back without quitting completely.

You’ve reached your breaking point.

You’ve been working on the same project for what feels like decades. You’re making progress, but it feels slow and insignificant. Lately, it feels like the words just won’t come. You’re not blocked. You want to write. You just … aren’t sure if it’s even worth it anymore.

You’re discouraged to the point of darkness. Quitting — stopping your writing either temporarily or forever — seems like the best option.

It might not be, though.

Maybe I can help.

Here’s the simple solution that worked for me when I considered quitting.

For the next week, set a goal to write 100 words a day. That’s it. Just 100 words.

It’s not much. In fact, you might have glanced twice at that number. 100? Are you sure that’s what you meant?

Yes. Because that’s the point. It’s an extremely small amount of words. It’s less overwhelming. It keeps you writing without making you feel like you’re reaching for impossible goals.

It’s almost like hitting the reset button. But you don’t stop, or lose any of your progress. You just slow down. You give yourself time to figure things out without straying too far from your original path.

And who knows? Along the way you might decide even 100 words seven days in a row isn’t worth it. You might decide it’s time to put the project to bed, leave it behind, and move on.

But you might also realize that what you needed wasn’t to quit, but to give yourself room to breathe.

Sometimes we forget that writing is exhausting — even for people who have been doing it for a long time. I know I write about this a lot, but I don’t think working writers talk about it enough.

Writing isn’t just difficult in the sense that you have to come up with good ideas and write them to the best of your ability. It is mentally and physically draining. By the time I log out of work and finish whatever post I’m working on for this blog, I feel like I’ve just finished a marathon.

It’s OK to feel like you just want to give up. I’ve struggled with that feeling a lot the past month. But I know quitting is not the answer. You might feel like all your work is for nothing, like you’re wasting your time, like none of any of this matters. But you’re wrong. It’s worth it.

If you’re tired, but you’re too afraid to walk away temporarily because you might not come back, then slow down and breathe. This is a tough space. We all struggle. But don’t quit unless you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do. Don’t quit out of frustration or exhaustion. You can get through it. I know you can.

Feeling discouraged? You're not alone. Here are some resources to help you through it.

A Writer's Guide to Powering Through Discouragement

Why It's So Easy to Get Discouraged

How to Bounce Back From Failure

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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9 thoughts on “Do This the Next Time You Feel Like Leaving the Writing Life Behind

    1. I’ve thought about quitting enough times in the past 10 years to understand what it feels like to want to give up. I’m happy to share my thoughts with anyone who wants to read them. :)

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